It not only takes longer for California students to attain community college degrees in the traditional two years and state university degrees in the normal four years, the system has created "a raft of expensive consequences for students and the state," according to two recent reports.
The nonprofit Campaign for College Opportunity reports can be accessed here.
They show two-year associate degrees now take an average of four years to receive. It takes more than 4.7 years for more than half of those state universities to attain bachelors degrees, the reports claim.
The problem is fewer seats are available in needed classes. For goal-oriented students, this means spending more money than their predecessors did on tuition, fees, books and living expenses. Many abandon or delay for years earning their degrees--and the potential for higher earning potential that comes with college degrees, according to the campaign.
"The cost of college isn't just what students and their families pay in tuition or fees, it's also about time--that's the hidden cost of a college education," explains Michele Siqueiros, the campaign's executive director, in a statement. "The real college affordability crisis is in the time it takes to earn a degree."
Key findings from the reports include:
- Asian, black and Latino students take about 4.7 years to complete four years at a state university, compared to 4.3 years for whites.
- The cost of an additional year in college for tuition, fees, books, and living expenses is $7,600 at a California community college and $26,000 at a state university.
- The cost of an additional year in lost wages over a lifetime is $15,000 at a California community college and $22,000 at a state university.
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- Reducing the required credits to graduate by 5 percent would save students $8 million in fees and could free up resources to serve 29,280 additional students.
- An average Cal State Long Beach student who takes six years to earn a bachelor's degree will spend an additional $58,000 on tuition, fees, books and other expenses, and will earn $52,900 less, over their lifetime than someone who graduated in four years. As a result, this student will incur $110,900 in extra expenses and lost wages.
The Campaign for College Opportunity is calling on state colleges and universities to: do better jobs of advising students on the benefits of full-time enrollment; provide more pre-college level courses at community colleges and CSUs; and consider even a marginal reduction in the number of credits required to save students money and free up more chairs in classes.