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Memories of Powell
What Price Glory?

University Communications

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What Price Glory?
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Young argues that the high-fee, high-aid structure has enabled the poor to have wider access to college than might otherwise be possible, and there is considerable statistical evidence proving that he is correct. Especially with affirmative-action admissions considerations on the way out in the UC system, the ability to subsidize low-income students could prove essential to maintaining any semblance of diversity in the university's student body.

With their fees, middle- and upper-income students are, in effect, carrying the tuition load for lower-income students. The result has been steady enrollment increases in the 1990s for two groups: low-income students, who receive aid, and high-income students, for whom fees are not an issue. At the same time, however, enrollment has steadily shrunk among the middle class, defined as those with a yearly family income between $30,000 and $90,000. "The dilemma is what is happening to the middle class," confirms UC system budget director Larry Hershman. "More people are going to have to save and borrow."

High fees for higher education in California were not born of economic necessity, but were an outgrowth of political expediency. In 1967 California had a new governor: Ronald Reagan. He sensed public disgust growing with student protesters' disrespect for the taxpayers who were giving them a free, first-rate education. By the end of the 1960s, there were more than 200 arrests at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego; in 1969 alone there were 584 arrests at San Francisco State College. Voters saw little reason to coddle students they viewed as spoiled children and Reagan rode the electorate's collective resentment into the statehouse.

In his first year in office, Governor Reagan argued that the state should stop subsidizing protesters and start making students pay tuition for their education. His position was hugely popular with the populace. But Reagan was opposed by Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh, who found unconscionable the idea of scuttling California's promise of a free education.

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