If there’s one place to watch the really hard choices about what government can afford to spend on higher education and what a college degree should cost, it’s the meat grinder that now faces the University of California in Sacramento.
The stakes are high. The university, led by UC President Janet Napolitano, has insisted it will increase tuition for as long as the next five years if lawmakers don’t pony up enough taxpayer dollars. Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders, on the other hand, have demanded that the university system cut costs and keep tuition levels constant if it wants any additional dollars. You couldn’t ask for a more tense showdown than this one.
(There was a tiny easing of that tension on Wednesday, when Napolitano extended an olive branch by canceling a tuition hike for summer session students.)