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California Public Higher Education: Funding Supplemental Services for Low-Income and First-Generation Students


The 2019-20 Budget: Student Food and Housing Insecurity at the University of California

April 25, 2019 - The Governor proposes to provide the University of California (UC) with ongoing funding to address student food and housing insecurity. UC indicates it would use the proposed funds either to augment student financial aid or support specific food and housing initiatives. In this brief, we provide background, then describe the Governor’s proposal. Next, we offer issues to consider and provide associated recommendations.


The 2020-21 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 20, 2020 - In this report, we analyze the Governor’s higher education budget proposals. Similar to last year, these proposals are wide ranging—including large base increases; targeted increases for apprenticeship programs and food pantries; one-time initiatives relating to extended education programs, work-based learning, faculty diversity, and animal shelters; and many facility projects.


[PDF] The 2013-14 Budget: California Spending Plan

November 4, 2013 - The LAO’s annual California Spending Plan publication details the 2013-14 budget package, including legislative and gubernatorial actions through October 2013. (Our office released a preliminary electronic version of the report on July 30, 2013 that summarized legislative and gubernatorial actions through that date.) Major features of the 2013-14 budget plan include $2.1 billion for a new formula to distribute funding amongst schools, a state-based plan to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than one million additional low-income adults, and selected program augmentations.


The 2021-22 Spending Plan: Higher Education

October 11, 2021 - This budget post summarizes the state’s 2021‑22 spending package for higher education. It is part of our Spending Plan series. In this post, we cover spending for the California Community Colleges (CCC), California State University (CSU), University of California (UC), student financial aid, California State Library, and certain initiatives that crosscut the education segments.


An Overview of Federal Higher Education Relief

April 28, 2020 - This post describes the major higher education provisions of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. It also highlights some key issues for the Legislature to consider relating to its upcoming budget and oversight decisions.


The 2021-22 Budget: California Student Aid Commission

February 8, 2021 - This report analyzes the Governor’s major budget proposals for the California Student Aid Commission, including proposals to expand the Cal Grant program and increase financial aid application rates.


The 2014-15 Budget: Analysis of the Higher Education Budget

February 12, 2014 - This report analyzes the Governor’s 2014-15 higher education budget. We continue to have serious concerns with the Governor’s approach to funding the universities, particularly as it significantly diminishes the Legislature’s role in key budget decisions and allows the universities to pursue segmental over state interests. We recommend the Legislature take an alternative approach that: (1) designates funding for specific purposes (including enrollment at the California State University and debt-service payments), (2) shares cost increases among the state and students, and (3) monitors the universities’ performance in specific areas (such as student success). We think the Governor’s approach to funding the community colleges is much better but recommend various ways for the Legislature to refine specific community college proposals. Most notably, rather than augmenting a single student support categorical program by $200 million, we recommend the Legislature consolidate seven student support programs into a block grant, thereby offering colleges considerably more flexibility in deciding the best ways to support their students.


A Primer: Funding Higher Education

June 30, 2005 - Where does the funding for higher education come from? How are costs divided among various groups (such as undergraduate and graduate students)? What role do student fees play? How is financial aid funded? How does the state decide how many students to fund in a given year? The purpose of this primer is to address these and other questions related to the funding of higher education in California, so as to aid policymakers and other interested parties in their deliberations and decision making.


The 2021-22 Budget: Analysis of the Major University Proposals

February 1, 2021 - This report analyzes the Governor’s major budget proposals for the universities, covering base funding, enrollment, students’ basic needs, faculty professional development, and deferred maintenance.


[PDF] The 2010-11 Budget: Higher Education

February 25, 2010 - Though the Governor portrays his 2010-11 budget proposal as protecting education, his plan would affect areas of education quite differently—significantly reducing funding for child care and K-12 education while augmenting funding for most higher education programs. We recommend the Legislature build a more balanced education budget. For higher education, we recommend providing new funding for community colleges through a $14 per unit fee increase; reducing the proposed augmentations for the state’s universities while still restoring their per-student funding rates to 2007-08 levels; and rejecting the Governor's proposed cuts to financial aid programs. Our recommendations on other parts of the education budget are contained in a companion publication: The 2010-11 Budget: Proposition 98 and K-12 Education.

(Short video introducing this report)


[PDF] A Review of State Budgetary Practices for UC and CSU

February 11, 2014 - Over the last six years, the state has moved away from its traditional budgetary approach for the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU). Notably, the state no longer (1) funds enrollment or inflation, (2) designates as much funding for specific purposes, or (3) reviews UC's capital projects as part of the regular budget process. Instead, the state has been providing the universities with unallocated funding increases and allowing the universities to make funding decisions previously made by the state. Another recent change to the state's budgetary approach is its inclusion of performance measures (though the state has not yet determined how to factor these measures into its budget decisions). Despite these changes to the traditional budgetary approach, one aspect that has not changed in recent years is the state's ad-hoc approach to student tuition. We recommend the Legislature return to using its traditional approach to funding the universities but make some refinements. Specifically, we recommend the Legislature resume funding enrollment but set enrollment expectations for different types of students and for a longer time horizon. We also recommend the Legislature fund a new freshman eligibility study. Further, we recommend the Legislature resume funding inflation and assume students and the state share in cost increases. To address concerns about the traditional budgetary approach's lack of emphasis on efficiency, we recommend the Legislature use its recently adopted performance measure relating to spending per degree to monitor the universities' productivity. We also recommend the Legislature review capital projects for the universities through the regular budget process.


The 2021-22 Budget: California Community Colleges

February 16, 2021 - This report analyzes the Governor’s major budget proposals for the community colleges, covering base apportionments, enrollment, students’ basic needs, online tools, apprenticeships and work-based learning, instructional materials, and faculty professional development.