California education budget crisis hits home to students, leaves some looking for other options

by Staff - Original publish date: January 19, 2012

The California budget crisis has been a headline fixture for a while, but now that higher education students and faculty are beginning to feel the heat of the latest budget cuts, education has jumped to the front of the news. Because of the cuts in the higher education system, many are acting out through protests to show their anger, while others are wondering what their next option could be.

The New York Times reports that in the past two years, California has made over $30 billion in budget cuts, one of the largest cuts has been higher education. The California state schools have seen $2.8 billion taken out of their budget alone, leading the colleges to raise their tuition prices to cover their debt. reports that the California Board of Regents announced that statewide, there will be a 32 percent tuition hike for undergraduates at UC schools. This is nearly five times the 6.5 public school tuition hike across the country.

However, the board claims that while the tuition hikes will bring UC schools to over $10,000 in price, not including room and board and other student fees, this will only affect students whose families make over $70,000 a year. Those who don't make that cut-off and are eligible for federal financial aid will be given access to grants through California programs, according to

Students lash out over tuition hike

Since the tuition hike announcement, students from schools across the state began to protest by occupying administrative buildings. While the tuition hike may have been the last straw, the students are also speaking out for the laid-off faculty workers affected by the budget cuts. Students are not the only ones getting involved in the movement, Professor Mark Sawyer said that he was supporting the protestors because he believes these tuition hikes are taking education away from those who need it most.

"I have single moms in that class [and] students supporting parents. I have people who have children and they are scraping together what they can to try to support themselves and their education," Sawyer told

The protests are garnering national attention because of the large number of students being arrested. Some state schools have reported up to 70 students being arrested for the building takeovers. While these demonstrations have been nonviolent, the participants have still managed to do damage to some of the buildings by trashing rooms and barricading doors.

Online education as an alternative

Students in the UC system may soon be finding themselves turning to online education. California schools such as California State University- Monterey Bay are offering online degrees that will help students save thousands of dollars that they would spend in a campus-based program. Monterey Bay announced that they would be offering tuition for their online degrees at a freeze rate, which means that even if California state schools receive another tuition increase; the online rate will not change during the completion of the program.

California State Universities are also a little cheaper that UC schools, which is why some students are also turning to California State University- Northbridge, as it offers a cheaper tuition price and also offers online degrees for those students who live far away and don't want to pay for room and board.

Online education is also a great way to avoid student fees like room and board, meal plans and even book expenses, as the cost of the program is usually just the tuition. Even students who live at home and attend campus-based programs still have unexpected student fees.

Since 1999, has been successfully connecting learners to online education, including online degree and certificate programs, specialized career training, and numerous online courses.