California ties public higher ed funding increases to in-state enrollment
- California lawmakers offer conditional budget increases exceeding $30 million to state systems that can increase in-state enrollment.
- University of California and California State University system institutions have increased out-of-state student enrollment in recent years to counteract budget cuts, which critics say has lowered admissions standards and diluted opportunities for in-state students.
- The budget also increases funding for state community colleges, adding about 50,000 more student slots.
California schools adjusted their admissions policies to account for state budget cuts, and the legislature is now moving to deliver more opportunities for their constituents. It is a political cat and mouse game that is necessary in stabilizing the higher education economy in financially unsteady states, but with one too many shifts in one direction can lead to collapse for some weaker institutions.
Large universities in the South, which may not have the population or competitive advantages that UC and Cal State institutions have, could learn from the out-of-state recruitment strategy. By offering comparable tuition to out-of-state students in bordering states, institutions can increase branding outside of typical target areas while filling gaps created by financial changes due to politics or industrial struggles.
But states should also be careful to scale these same opportunities to smaller public institutions with niche missions — historically black and Hispanic-serving institutions to name a few — as they too also add to state economy and the welfare of state residents.
- Inside Higher Ed More state funds, on one condition