California Democrats unveil a sweeping financial aid plan to help students avoid debt

Seizing on growing concerns over college affordability, California lawmakers proposed what would be the most generous college aid plan in the nation Monday, covering not just tuition but also living expenses that have led to spiraling student debt… Debbie Cochrane, vice president of the Institute for College Access and Success, said the Assembly proposal would not adequately help those students who most need it. “In many regions across the state, community college students face higher college costs than UC or CSU students,” Cochrane said. Cortez Alcalá said it was financially unrealistic to cover the full cost of college for all students. “We have to pick and choose,” she said.

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by Melanie Mason and Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times.

Carol Christ is named UC Berkeley’s chancellor

Carol Christ, UC Berkeley’s top academic officer — widely regarded on campus as an effective and collaborative administrator — was tapped Monday to become the 11th chancellor and first female leader of the prestigious 149-year-old campus. If approved by the UC Board of Regents on Thursday, Christ (rhymes with wrist) would take over July 1, when Chancellor Nicholas Dirks will step down… “Carol Christ’s integrity, commitment to transparency and genuine love for UC Berkeley make her a worthy choice,” said the group’s co-chair, Celeste Langan, an associate professor of English, though “we don’t expect always to agree with (her) on every issue.” For example, Langan said, her group believes the solution to the campus deficit “is to restore full public funding of tuition, not to turn the university into a revenue-generating business enterprise.” But she said Christ, who has not advocated eliminating tuition, has “demonstrated her willingness to engage in respectful, collegial dialogue.”

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by Nanette Asimov, The San Francisco Chronicle.

UC proposes its first enrollment cap — 20% — on out-of-state students

Last year, lawmakers threatened to hold back $18.5 million if the public university system did not put a cap on students from outside California. On Monday, UC finally acted, proposing a 20% systemwide limit on nonresident undergraduate enrollment and vowing to continue to give Californians top priority. Nonresident students numbered 34,673 in fall 2016, 16.5% of the system’s 210,170 undergraduates. The limit would be the first of its kind for the 10-campus public research university. But UC officials hope it will be enough to get state officials to release the funds.

Debate on college affordability spurs California lawmakers to offer proposals to help students

The attention from lawmakers reflects a growing worry from their constituents over the price of a higher education. A survey in December from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 57% of adults believed affordability was a big problem for the state’s public colleges and universities. Nearly three-quarters of those polled said they believed the high costs were preventing qualified and motivated students from going to college… The issue became even more visible as California institutions considered their first tuition hikes in six years. University of California regents approved a 2.5% tuition increase in January. California State University trustees are examining boosting tuition on their campuses by 5%.

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by Melanie Mason, The Los Angeles Times.

Students stage walkout over proposed tuition hikes

Close to 200 students walked out of class Wednesday afternoon to protest the proposed tuition increases at Humboldt State University. Both California State University and University of California systems are considering raising tuition for the first time in six years. According to the California Department of Finance, tuition at CSU campuses are estimated at $5,472 for the year and tuition at UC campuses are estimated at $12,294 for the 2016-17 school year.

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by Natalya Estrada, Eureka Times-Standard.

Online Education Costs More, Not Less

Researchers asked respondents to think about 21 components of an online course, such as faculty development, instructional design and student assessment, and how the cost of those components compares to a similar face-to-face course. The respondents — administrators in charge of distance education at 197 colleges — said nine of the components cost more in an online course than in a face-to-face course, while 12 cost about the same. In other words, virtually every administrator surveyed said online courses are more expensive to produce. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to Russell Poulin and Terri Taylor Straut, the authors of the study. Producing an online course means licensing software, engaging instructional designers, training faculty members and offering around-the-clock student support, among other added costs, they point out in the report.

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by Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed.

California assemblywoman introduces bill to freeze Cal State tuition until 2020

A state assembly bill introduced this month would prohibit California State University and the California Community Colleges from increasing tuition and any mandatory student fees until the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Dubbed the “Student Protection Act,” Assembly Bill 393 cites rising student debt and past tuition increases that outpaced inflation and cost of living as reasons for the proposed freeze. AB 393 also “urged” the UC Regents to “adopt policies that are consistent” with the provisions of the bill.

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by Rosanna Xia, The Los Angeles Times.

Colleges may be happy Falwell will lead review of higher ed regulations, but students and parents should be worried

President Trump has asked Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a panel on reform of higher education regulations… “There’s too much intrusion into the operation of universities and colleges. I’ve got a whole list of concerns. It mainly has to do with deregulation.” … only 38 percent of Liberty borrowers manage to pay down as little as one dollar on their student loan principal within three years of leaving school. What’s more, 41 percent of former Liberty students earn less than $25,000 annually six years after enrolling. This is critical information students and parents deserve to know about Liberty and hundreds of other colleges and universities.

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by Jeffrey J. Selingo, The Washington Post.

Trump’s threat to cut federal funds after fiery protest stuns UC

Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional provocateur, provoked not only protesters who shut down his speech at UC Berkeley but also President Trump, who suggested Thursday that federal funds be withheld from the campus as a result… UC Berkeley officials declined to comment on the president’s tweet, but spokesman Dan Mogulof said federal funding “provides financial aid to low-income students and supports basic research that supports the greater good, California’s economy and the national economy.” … “I find it deeply troubling that the president of the United States has threatened the funding of a public university to hold it accountable for the actions of outside agitators,” said Ralph Washington, president of the UC Student Association, adding that most of the protesters were students “exercising their right to free assembly.”

Here’s what would it take to give California students a debt-free college education

California could help students get through college without debt — but at a hefty potential cost of $3.3 billion annually, a new state report says. The report by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office laid out different ways the state could help students at the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges cover both tuition and living expenses. The analysis comes as concern rises over spiraling student debt, which has topped $1 trillion nationwide. Worries over college costs also have deepened among some families since UC regents approved a tuition increase last week and Gov. Jerry Brown proposed phasing out the state’s Middle Class Scholarship program for new students beginning this fall.

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by Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times.