Illinois and Everyone Else

State and local support for higher education in Illinois plunged as the state’s lawmakers and governor were unable to reach a budget agreement and instead passed severely pared-down stopgap funding. Educational appropriations per full-time equivalent student in the state skidded 80 percent year over year, from $10,986 to $2,196. Enrollment in public institutions dropped by 11 percent, or 46,000 students. That situation proved to be enough of an outlier that it weighed down several key markers in the 2016 State Higher Education Finance report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers association, which is being released today.

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by Rick Seltzer, Inside Higher Ed.

Audit to examine questions on Peralta College district spending

Millions of dollars of parcel tax money intended for faculty salaries in the Peralta Community College District may have been misspent on salaries, vacation, sick leave and other fringe benefits for nonacademic staff, says a public watchdog group that has pushed for an independent audit of the spending… Members of the oversight committee have expressed concern that the district may be using Measure B money to pay for staff normally covered by the general fund in order to free up money there to pay for new consultants and administrators. During the period that Peralta district officials appear to be using voter-approved parcel tax money for nonacademic purposes, they have also increased the number of highly paid administrators paid from the general fund.

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by Ted Andersen, The San Francisco Chronicle.

Cost triples, delays mount for UC computer system upgrade

The timeline for a massive upgrade to the University of California’s payroll and personnel system was extended again twice in the past two months, further delaying a project now expected to cost more than three times its original budget… Michael Krigsman, an IT industry analyst at CXOTalk.com, said it’s better for UC to delay the payroll system than be stuck unable to issue paychecks for months. But he questioned how the university had gotten so far off track and what it would do in the future to avoid repeating those mistakes. “A project that is three times its original size either rests on very shaky foundation or they changed the plan along the way, which indicates a poor understanding of the problem it was trying to solve,” he said.

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by Alexei Koseff, The Sacramento Bee.

Why tuition-free college keeps getting attention

Glantz, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and president of the Council of UC Faculty Association, said such a move would have been unthinkable just two years ago. “The politics and the public awareness around this issue have dramatically shifted since last year,” Glantz said. Before that, he said, “You couldn’t even get politicians to talk about it.” But he called the New York plan “too complicated. It would just be a lot simpler to get rid of tuition,” he said. Some critics say even that is not enough. The problem, they say, is there are a few other costs when it comes to college.

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by Mark Muckenfuss, The Press-Enterprise.

UC: Locals vs. the out-of-staters

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, says he hears that complaint from constituents “all the time – at Trader Joe’s, at soccer fields and walking down the street.” Instead of getting accepted to UC Berkeley or UCLA, many highly qualified students are referred to less popular campuses like UC Merced and UC Riverside. Meanwhile, nonresidents get their first choice at the most sought-after schools. He and other legislators asked UC last year to address the problem and are irritated that the university is proposing a 20 percent cap on nonresidents at most campuses, which is higher than the current system-wide percentage – 16.5 percent of UC’s 210,170 undergraduates.

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by Lisa Renner, Capitol Weekly.

CSU students rally with faculty to push for 5% raise

A group of California State University students, including some from Sac State, rallied Monday morning in support of faculty seeking a 5 percent raise and threatening to walk off the job in April. In a report released Monday as part of a mandatory arbitration process, an independent fact-finder concluded that CSU should offer its teaching staff a 5 percent raise…

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by Lezlie Sterling, The Sacramento Bee.

Providing free college tuition in California is a good idea — but taxing millionaires to do it is a bad one

Eggman has introduced a bill to pile an additional 1% surcharge on those million-dollar earners, lifting the top rate to 14.3%. The roughly $2 billion collected would cover all the California resident tuition costs not already being funded by various grants and financial assistance to lower- and middle-income students at the public universities… If free tuition is good public policy — and it certainly was for my generation — then the broad public should pay for it, not just a few rich people… California provided tuition-free college for generations. It helped California achieve greatness by broadening the middle class and offering opportunities for upward mobility not available in other states. It was an economic engine.

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by George Skelton, The Los Angeles TImes.

California can’t afford a huge new program for colleges

In response to growing concerns over college affordability, Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly are proposing a new college aid plan that would be the most generous in the nation… It’s irresponsible to imagine that we can add an entirely new — and, at a cost of $1.6 billion, very expensive — program. “For this year’s upcoming budget, Gov. (Jerry) Brown is aiming to close a budget gap of $1.6 billion and to provide a modest and minimal reserve of about $1.5 billion for economic emergencies,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance. The plan’s proponents have argued that state budget projections are too pessimistic. They are not.

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by The Editorial Board, The San Francisco Chronicle.

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.