For the first time, the total amount that University of California students pay in tuition this year will surpass the funding the prestigious public university receives from the state. It is a historic shift for the UC system and part of a national trend that is changing the nature of public higher education.
Propelled by budget crises in California and elsewhere, the burden of paying for education at a public college or university, once heavily subsidized by taxpayers, is shifting to students and their families.
At UC, the changes are prompting soul-searching among administrators, alumni, students and others about whether the 10-campus, 230,000-student system is at a crossroads.
Some say the university must choose among facets of its long-standing public mission — to offer a widely accessible, moderately priced and high-quality education to California's young people — as it supports itself increasingly through tuition, private fundraising and growing numbers of out-of-state students.
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