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UCLA researchers find declining opportunities, student stress at Cal State Northridge

California’s recession and education cuts are stressing students to the breaking point, with many reporting that they can no longer afford college and that attaining a degree will take them years longer than planned.

Those are some of the findings of a survey of 2,000 students at Cal State Northridge conducted in fall 2010 by the UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles. The report, “Squeezed From All Sides,” to be released Tuesday, charts an environment of “declining educational opportunities” in which California students “are being asked to pay much more to get less,” said coauthors Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield.

About half of the respondents said their parents were providing less financial support to them than  because of job losses and reduced salaries. Nearly 59% of students said they were giving more financial resources to their families because of the recession.

Eighty percent of students said it is harder now than a year or two ago to afford college expenses, and many cited spiraling tuition, which rose 32% in 2009-10 and will increase by 15% more this fall.

Two-thirds of students said they had been unable to get the classes they need to obtain a degree, and three-quarters said they thought it would take an additional year or more to finish.

The authors said the cuts to education are problematic because higher education is an economic engine that produces jobs. The 23-campus Cal State University system produces the vast majority of bachelor’s degrees in the state and serves a diverse student population that will increasingly provide California's future workforce, they note.

Cal State Northridge, with 35,000 students, is one of California's largest public campuses, with a student population that reflects the state’s racial and ethnic demographics.

“We are overburdening these young people -- many of whom are the first in their family to get a degree and many of whose parents are struggling -- by policies that place the onus on them,” said Gándara, a UCLA education professor.

Students were invited to include comments with their responses, and their woes are affecting.

“I am a single mom with an entire family of parents and siblings depending on me for help,” wrote one. “We are in a dire situation.”

Another lamented : “I planned to graduate in spring 2009 but because I can’t afford school and can only get into a few classes I probably won’t graduate until fall 2011. Very stressful and at times makes me want to drop out.”

Cal State Northridge has tried to offset some of the sting of budget cuts, for example by encouraging those with enough credits to graduate to take that step, thereby freeing up about $7 million more this year in financial aid for new students, said provost Harold Hellenbrand.

More online classes are being offered, and graduation and retention rates are up from last year, he said. But he said the UCLA survey reflects a difficult reality for many students — and administrators.

“We’re all managing, but it’s like you’re skating on ice and you can begin to hear the ice cracking under you,” Hellenbrand said. “You realize you better keep skating because the cracks are beginning to open up.”


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Comments () | Archives (27)

I wonder why they had to study Cal State Northridge students when they'd find the same results at UCLA.....

This is the reality. This is what America has become. It will be the first time (not counting our indigenous nations) since the landing of the first English colonists at Jamestown that opportunities for the next generation will be fewer than those available to the previous one.

what did you expect a study done by "education" graduates to find?....That they needed less money from the government?.....don't you get it?

It's important to realize that the taxpayers who support the system are in the same boat. There seems to be an assumption that tax money comes from a great prosperous bank account in the sky, but it doesn't. Tax money comes from working families who are financially stressed.

Obama says the recession is over so quit complaining.

While America is slowly slipping into the abyss, the Republicans in Congress are spending their time going after Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, and the arts instead of concentrating on job creation and maintaining our standing in the world through academic achievement and technical production. Will our kids have to go to China in the future for opportunity?

These stories parallel those one heard from the Great Depression when students had to drop out of high school and college to find whatever work was available to help support their parents and siblings.
It's heartbreaking and if the GOP thugs now controlling the House get their way, things will get worse.

Our Founding Fathers primary purpose echoed loudly the need for an educated America!!! We are drastically failing our students k-12 and higher education! How long will it take for America to wise up? There is no shortcut to an education. America needs to believe and provided the necessary funding for EDUCATION!!!

How unfortunate that California's educational system, on every level, once so exemplary has fallen so far behind. We will have a population that is marginally educated, and CA will suffer for generations. As a lucky recipient of a UCLA education, I wonder how our priorities could become so skewed?

My kid is at Humboldt State and she's going to have to attend school for an extra year because of the cuts. Her financial aide has been cut in half, and it's going to be a real struggle to keep her in school. Cutting classes is forcing a back-log of students who should have already graduated - putting more pressure on everything! And because she's in the sciences, her text books are almost a thousand dollars a semester!!! No wonder America is lagging behind in education. RESTORE THE FUNDING!!!

This article and many of the comments make me want to vomit.
Our country has developed such an entitlement attitude.
For generations before, kids have worked summers, taken extra years to graduate, taken out loans, etc to pay for college.
@Pedro Mom: I went to a top 5 engineering school. I worked 40 hours a week while in school, bought my thousands of dollars of books with loans that I paid back. It took me six years to graduate.. I had to take a few lower division courses at a community college because I couldn't get into the ones at my school.
You say, "restore the funding." Sounds like you should be saying that to your kid... take out more loans, take summers off and work to save money, quit whining, grab some sack, and get 'er done!

all that being said, I do think colleges and universities need to take a good hard look at their own labor costs (pensions included) and figure out how to do more with less...

Both of my sons are attending Cal colleges and it is ridiculous at the number of courses NOT being offered. These professors are not taking pay cuts, yet there course load has lessened because "there is not money for the classes". This is crap!!! Sacremento needs to find some place else to cut money --- maybe their pet projects, crazy tax laws or even their checkbook/pension. Students are leaving this state because they cannot get an education here. So instead of making it possible for them to finish school, what money we (parents) do have is going out of state to fund other colleges so that our kids can graduate. My youngest son only has 2 classes this semster because they only offer his class 4 times and there are 20,000 kids trying to get into 40 spots. This has to stop.

Californians are unwilling/unable to pay for public higher education. Poll after poll have shown that a majority of Californians strongly approve of the UC and CSU systems, but they don’t want to pay for them. The article describes only one negative consequence of budget cuts to higher education. Our economy will be feeling the negative effects of the cuts for years.

It's sad that they needed to fund a study that produced what everyone already knew, but I hope they can use this to influence the right people to Restore proper Funding for college students. Even worse than the financial woes, there are *paying* students who can't get in the classes that they need to graduate, which stresses the student and the system even more.

True Freedom: FYI -My child has held a full time and/or part time jobs the entire time she's been in school, until this final semester. She's worked her butt off and has a 4.0 grade point average. I don't know how long ago it was that you attended college, but the amount you can get in student loans has been drastically reduced. In addition, the CSU system has cut back offering classes, so that students who planned out their college strategies now have to stay in school for extra semesters - sometimes YEARS. This just further clogs up the system! I've lived in California my whole life, and I remember when UCLA cost around $400 a semester and California produced some of the greatest genius innovators in history. Then the idiot initiative process put Prop 13 on the ballot and wiped out educational funding. It's been a downhill ever since. I also have several family members who are Professors, and believe me, they deserve every penny of their pensions. They worked hard for their retirement. "True Freedom" is using the intelligence that God gave us to realize that as a society we need to educate our children so we can preserve our freedom.

It's a benefit for the entire society to have children educated, so I don't mind some of my tax dollars funding our public schools, but people with children cost the government a lot more money and, in general, utilize far more public services than those without children, yet pay much less in taxes. Why are we incentivizing breeding? End the tax breaks for people with children and put the new revenue into schools/parks/healthcare and other programs of benefit to our young people.

Perhaps, the UC Regents will volunteer their compensation, until the UC system rebounds financially, it would be an honorable thing to do.

Leading by example is best way to show our youth, how much they care.

Perhaps, the UC Regents will volunteer their compensation, until the UC system rebounds financially, it would be an honorable thing to do.

Leading by example is best way to show our youth, how much they care.

Dear True Freedom,

What year did you graduate? How much did it cost for a gallon of gas, how much did it cost to go to a movie, and how much was your rent?

It was nice, when you and I went to college, because we could actually find a 40 hour job and a part time job in the summer to pay for school.

Get real TF, the world has changed, the younger generation is not asking for a handout, they are asking for a hand-up.

True Freedom,

I know this is a bit off topic, but I can't help but ask: is "get 'er done" the english that is taught at your "top 5 engineering school?" I know a few engineers but I've never heard one of them say, get 'er done. Then again I don't know any engineers from the Ozarks, Virgina or Kentucky, so... Just saying.

Well, Cry Me a River. If you can't take the pressure now, how do you expect to take it when you join the workforce?

When I went to UCLA, I lived out of my car and worked full-time. Mommy and Daddy didn't pay for my college and my Uncle Sam was nowhere to be found.

How about starting by:

Bouncing out all illegal aliens?

Cutting taxes, so high paying jobs will come back to California?

UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles? How about speaking English and cut out the Spanish? This is the United States, not TJ. Was this designed for the DREAM Act babies? Screw 'em.

Regarding less financial support- Put down the I-Phone and the I-Pod, get off your butt and get a job.

To the young lady who wrote- "I am a single mom with an entire family of parents and siblings depending on me for help.., We are in a dire situation." Move, relocate, marry some rich dude, or get a job. This isn't "Whiners R US" and we the taxpayers don't owe anybody any education after high school.

@Don't Start: I have several degrees.. my most recent just three years ago, so yes, I have a very good idea of what college costs and how much aid is available. Stafford loans go up to around $20k. If your daughter can't get educated in the Cal State system for less than $20k, then you are doing something seriously wrong.

Additionally, the UC system STILL has some of the best campuses in the nation. Have you compared Berkeley to Stanford or MIT lately? I have.. I attended two of those institutions.

The UC (and CalState) systems are still an incredible bargain. I'm sorry, but it is not the taxpayer's obligation to give your kids a nearly free ride to higher education. We got them thru high school, now it's time to forge your own path.

And, in case you haven't noticed, their is great demand for higher education. So, if your daughter bails out, there will be twenty people in line behind her to take her spot. You can cry about it all you want, but it's time pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get 'er done!

This stress ???
Maybe a vacation with some of the folks in Afghanistan would relieve their stress.
Driving Beemers and beer parties and and weekends at the beach cause all that stresss.
Try working 40 hours a week and studying will cure all that.
I know some of you really try - but too many of you are flakes.

It's unfortunate that our economy is in such poor condition; many adults & teens in our area cannot find work of any kind. However, many of these have never had to struggle for ANYTHING. Overcoming life's struggles makes for more resourceful and appreciative people. My teen has to attend community college and it may take her several more years to graduate. Although this is very disappointing for both of us (I'm college educated, have been laid off multiple times and have been underemployed for more than a few years), in the mean time she started her own small business and her part time employer has promoted her twice in the last year. Her difficult circumstances have forged her into a more compassionate, respectful, employable teen.

Having graduated from CSUN in 2008, it feels as if the UCLA researchers failed to convey a full picture. It really is not difficult to graduate in 4 years if you actually want to (I graduated after 4 years with an excess of credits). That includes actually signing up for classes before the semester begins (many people don't bother to sign up for a class, especially a required class, until after that class has met at least once) and not assuming that someone else will guide you through the process (it's up to you to make sure that you fulfill all of your class requirements and file for graduation). Many students treat CSUN as f it were an overgrown community college, and many take the bare minimum number of credits to make sure that they count as a full-time student for financial aid with the intent to take more than 4 years.

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