California Tuition-Free Higher Education Possible with Taxes

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A median-income family in California could pay an additional $48 per year for a tuition-free higher education, according to a report released by a higher education advocacy coalition last month.

To replace mandatory fees and tuition for resident students of California, an addition $9.43 billion in funding would have to be provided by the state. The report would require an increased annual progressive income tax to cover these expenses.

Under this proposal, Two-thirds of state households would pay less than $150 per year, households in the top 5 percent around $7,100 per year, and median-income families $48 per year. Those who earn less than $10,000 per year wouldn’t pay more than $2 per year.

Christopher Newfield, a UC Santa Barbara professor who contributes to the report, said he thinks there is nothing radical about the report’s findings. He thinks the solution only seems radical in the privatization era, where everything is done in deregulated markets.

“You have to recognize that the private market is not a solution for everything, but the anti-solution for higher education,” Newfield said.

“The report is saying we can afford this, now how do we do it politically?” Newfield said. “The report doesn’t answer that question, (instead) here’s an answer that is possible and desirable.”

Eli Andrade