Daily Video

August 22, 2011

Higher Education Faces Economic Challenges

For many colleges students across the U.S., the end of summer signals a time of change and new beginnings. Students face new classes, roommates, college professors and sometimes even new campuses.

But college students around the nation, are also facing rising tuition costs and a particular hit on public universities from budget cuts and a weak economy. According to reports, nationally, higher education funding is expected to drop $5 billion this year.

In the state of California, such cuts affect both the elite University of California, or U.C., system, with 187,000 students, and the more broad-based California State University system, or CSU, with 420,000, the largest university system in the country.

To offset declining state support in a poor economy, CSU trustees recently raised tuition 12 percent, on top of a 10 percent raise earlier, jumping tuition to about $6,000 a year.

Tuition prices are not the only concern. Professors and students are worried about the quality of education suffering.

“I can tell you there’s a big difference between me teaching a class of 35 students, as opposed to 60 students,” said Phil Klasky of San Francisco State University.

University officials at all levels are reluctant to say the educational quality has already dropped, but they admit it’s in jeopardy and that major changes are coming.


“What I think we’re seeing is, increasingly, the middle class being priced out of campuses like San Francisco State.” -Robert Corrigan, San Francisco State University.

“I can tell you there’s a big difference between me teaching a class of 35 students, as opposed to 60 students. Quality of education suffers.” -Phil Klasky, San Francisco State University.

Warm Up Questions

1. What is a budget?

2. How do budget cuts affect public universities?

3. What is the difference between a public and a private university?

Discussion Questions

1. Why are many public universities in California having to raise tuition costs?

2. Do you think that raising tuition costs is the solution?

3. What are the possible consequences of tuition costs rising?

4. How do people pay for college if their families cannot afford the tuition?

5. How important is a college degree? What opportunities does it open up? What are some other options?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

Cost of College Affecting Application and Acceptance Decisions

College-Bound Students Face High Tuition

Is a College Education Essential for Americans?

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