According to George Skelton at the Capitol Journal: In 1980, the average annual cost of undergraduate tuition and fees at the University of California was $776. Today, it’s $13,218. That’s an 18% increase over last year, which was 14% higher than the previous year, which was 23% steeper than the year before that.
Add up room, board, books and pocket change and you’re easily into 30-plus grand.
In the California State University system, average annual fees were $160 in 1980. Now they’re around $6,500, up 23% in the last year. Another hike is on tap for next September.
At community colleges, there were no academic fees before 1984. That year, a $5 per unit charge was imposed. Now it’s up to $36; figure $864 annually for a full load. Sure, that’s a bargain. But it’s still a difficult reach for a single mom working a part-time job.
Darrell Steinberg, the lawmaker introducing the bills adds that the average college textbook in 2010 cost $104, a 24% increase from five years before. Between 1986 and 2004, textbook prices rose 186%, double the inflation rate. Students can expect to spend more than $1,100 a year on books.
One of the answers, according to the new proposal law is to establish a council to select 50 courses for the program to target. Those courses would then have material sent out to bid with the goal of free online materials or a printed version for under $20. All materials created under the program would be housed in a “California open-source digital library” similar to the one we discussed being produced in the State of Washington. Steinberg estimates the start up costs of this project to be around 20 million dollars but anticipates an annual savings of student of over 1 billion dollars.
The key to the success of this program and others under way is their ability to create content that is as good or better than the materials provided by the publishers and then to get the faculty to adapt them. It is a multi step process and I agree it needs to start somewhere but a lot of parts are required to get this locomotive moving down the track. I applaud the effort and will keep an eye on its progress.