San Diego- Current California State Assembly member and candidate for superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond brought students and stakeholders from the University of California and California State University systems together for a forum on the issue of college affordability and its impact on students in the Golden State.
The fact sheet on college affordability is alarming; annual education costs have soared since the Eighties to nearly 13 to 20 thousand dollars for community college, and CSU and UC costs are averaging 26 thousand and 35 thousand per year, respectively.
Those numbers are frightening, and their impact on student life is significant. The average community college student pays 43% of their income for housing, 1 in 10 Cal State students were homeless in the last year, and 50% of U.C. students are food insecure. For them, the dream of completing college is compromised at the onset; they are at much greater risk of dropping out.
Thurmond addressed the panel and requested help in framing the issue from a student perspective. Panelists obliged and identified decades of divestment from the university system as an ongoing problem.
While the state has taken some action with legislation that creates a homeless and foster student liaison at each Cal Grant campus, facilitating additional low-income housing opportunities, and appropriating additional funds, much more work is necessary.
Thurmond’s ability to bring the diverse stakeholders together for a candid and informed conversation about these important issues is illustrative of his exceptional qualifications as the next superintendent of public instruction for California.