Are tuition hikes at state universities turning off local high school graduates?

Over the past month or so, I came across some interesting data from two local public school districts that educate high school students in Walnut Creek, as well as in Lamorinda and the San Ramon Valley.

It seems that an increasing number of graduates from the Acalanes Union High School District — which includes Walnut Creek’s Las Lomas High — and from the San Ramon Valley Unified District are opting to not enroll in California’s public four-year colleges. Instead, more are choosing to attend private California schools or to go out of state. This trend is leaving district officials wondering if students, even those who come from some of the Bay Area’s most affluent suburbs, are deciding that tuition hikes at UC and CSU campuses are too much for them.

In the past month, California college students have joined Occupy protests throughout the state where, among other grievances, they have been criticizing tuition hikes at the University of California and California State University campuses. Clashes broke out at Cal State Long Beach earlier this month where CSU chancellors met and approved a 9 percent tuition increase  for the 2012-13 academic year. On Monday, students and faculty members temporarily shut down UC Board of Regents meetings held across the state. The protest included complaints that tuition at UC campuses had tripled since 2006.

As I reported on Lamorinda Patch and Danville Patch, graduating high school students from the Acalanes Union and San Ramon Valley districts may have been making their displeasure with tuition hikes known by opting for an education at colleges outside California.

Officials in the Acalanes district, which also serves Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, have seen an increase in seniors bound for out-of- state schools, from 20 percent in 2006 to 30 percent in 2011.

Data from the San Ramon Valley Unified School District likewise shows that fewer graduates from the district’s three high schools have been heading to University of California or California State University campuses. The number of graduates from California, Dougherty Valley, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley high schools, saying they will attend state four-year colleges, has dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 35 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of SRVUSD seniors saying in exit surveys that they are going to private California colleges has increased from 19 to 25 percent. The number going out of state has similarly increased from 17 to 25 percent.

As I reported in both articles, UC fees have doubled from $4,984 to $10,302 for full-time resident undergraduates since 2004 — not including room, board, books and individual campus fees. Meanwhile, CSU fees have increased $2,572 to $6,422 during the same period. The CSU  tuition hikes approved earlier this month will take the cost of an academic year to $7,000.

At the same time, UC’s nine undergraduate campuses are seeing an increase in the number of students coming from out of state, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in July.  Fourteen percent of freshman enrolling this fall were expected to be from out of state, up from 11 percent last year and 9 percent the year before.

3 thoughts on “Are tuition hikes at state universities turning off local high school graduates?

  1. Every qualified California student should get a place in University of California(UC) system. That's a desirable goal for a public university. However, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau displaces Californians qualified for education at Cal. with $50,600 tuition Foreigners.
    Paying more is not a better education. UC tuition increases exceed the national average rate of increase. UC Board Of Regents Chairwoman Lansing jeopardizes access to higher education by making UC the most expensive public university.
    Self-serving tuition increases are used by UC President Mark Yudof to increase the pay of 80,000 eligible faculty & others. Payoffs like these point to higher operating costs and still higher tuition for Californians. Instate tuition consumes 14% of Cal. Median Family Income! UC is hijacking our kids’ futures: student debt.
    I agree that faculty in higher education and senior management, like Yudof and Birgeneau, should consider the students' welfare & put it high on their values. Deeds unfortunately do not bear out the students' welfare values of UC Berkeley Birgeneau’s senior management and the UC Board of Regents.
    We must act. Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police deployed violent baton jabs on students protesting increases in tuition. The sky above UC will not fall when Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) is ousted.
    Opinions to UC Board of Regents, email


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