California poll: Most believe UC, CSU colleges unaffordable; 4-year degree not the only way to succeed

  • A California Community poll surveyed 1,220 California adults “across all racial groups, political ideologies, age, gender, income levels and geographical regions” from April 7-18.
  • The survey results showed that 60% of California residents perceive the University of California (UC) campuses to be “largely or completely unaffordable,” while 55% believe the same about California State University (CSU) campuses.  
  • Latino and Black respondents responded “largely or completely unaffordable” by the highest margin. Concurrently, around half of the Asian Pacific respondents consider the UC system unaffordable, and 40% consider the CSU system unaffordable.
  • The results of the survey suggest that a high percentage of California residents do not know about the various opportunities, resources and financial aid options available to students who need support. 
  • Around one-third of all respondents think that four-year college degrees are necessary. The remaining two-thirds believe there are other kinds of pathways, such as those involving vocational schools and internships, which California residents aiming for social and economic mobility could take. 
  • Though 77% of all respondents consider a four-year college degree valuable, 45% are unsure of whether having this type of degree could lead to a successful career.

A recent survey shows that 60% of California residents consider University of California (UC) campuses to be “largely or completely unaffordable,” while 55% believe the same about California State University (CSU) campuses.  

From April 7-18, a California Community poll surveyed 1,220 California adults “across all racial groups, political ideologies, age, gender, income levels and geographical regions.”

California residents who live on one of the 10 UC campuses can expect to pay an estimated cost of attendance of $38,504 for the 2022-2023 school year. Those attending a CSU school are expected to pay an estimated $30,676.

In each of the survey’s racial and ethnic groups – white, Latino, Black and Asian Pacific – 10% or fewer perceive the UC system to be “very affordable.” Around 60% of all respondents consider it “largely or completely unaffordable,” and 55% of all respondents think the same about the CSU system.

Latino and Black respondents responded “largely or completely unaffordable” by the highest margin. Concurrently, around half of the Asian Pacific respondents consider the UC system unaffordable, and 40% consider the CSU system unaffordable.

The results of the survey – commissioned by the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), Hispanas Organized for Political Equality and the Los Angeles Urban League, in partnership with the Los Angeles Times – suggest that a high percentage of California residents do not know about the various opportunities, resources and financial aid options available to students who need support.

Michael Lawson, the president of the Los Angeles Urban League, explained that in much of the Black community, awareness about the state’s financial aid programs is “close to zero.”

Meanwhile, Nancy Yap, the executive director of CAUSE, raised a similar concern in a recent statement: “Asian and Pacific Islanders have the widest economic disparity of any racial group in the United States. It is necessary to provide in-language and culturally sensitive financial resources for our communities to make the dream of higher education a reality.”

The state is planning to invest over $500 million to help more of its residents afford college. But even if prospective students were provided with more financial aid, the survey results demonstrate the belief held by most respondents that while a degree from a four-year college or university is valuable, studying at alternative schools could be just as – or even more – valuable.

Though 77% of all respondents consider a four-year college degree valuable, 45% are unsure of whether having this type of degree could lead to a successful career.

Additionally, around one-third of all respondents believe that four-year degrees are necessary, while the remaining two-thirds believe there are other kinds of pathways that California residents aiming for social and economic mobility could take. These pathways include experiencing internships and studying at educational institutions such as community colleges and vocational schools.

Featured Image via University of California (left), Hafu Go (right)

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