Tag Archives: california-budget

Grants & Loans

As an update, also check out Richard Vedder’s post about the Pell-mell grant and alternate reform ideas.


With the feeble economy on just about everyone’s minds, there’s been some interesting news percolating about education and student loans.  The Inside HigherEd published a news piece about the $845 per student Pell Grant to help make up for the federal government’s shortfall.  As a cross section of California schools for in-state residents, here are a few stats:

UC Berkeley $12,461.50/year
CSU East Bay $4,872/year
Contra Costa College $570/year

So, for students at a CSU or a community college will still be fine with the cap and the UC students just have a slightly larger shortfall between costs and grant funding.  Given the 52% jump in Pell Grant enrollment, the relatively small difference in total amounts compared to the larger number of people participating seems the most logical decision to make.

While grant funding is going down, student loan debts are going up, according to the Project on Student Debt.  On average, a student has $24,000 in loans upon graduation in 2009 (To learn more about a state or campus average, check out their interactive map.). As the NY Times reports, this vast usage of loans creates a much larger problem than our other credit-based indulgence; “Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of Finaid.org and Fastweb.com, estimates total student debt at about $896 billion — more than the nation’s credit-card debt.”

And, sadly enough, the general poor financial management and difficulty in getting a job leaves only about 1/3 of those who took out loans with the ability to repay their loans on time, according to the Institute of Higher Education Policy.

So what does this all mean?  Well, for my information competency students, I think this means I, and possibly other librarians, need to consider finances as part of the information literacy umbrella that has been missed in other education settings.  Searching the web is more than just knowing Google’s Boolean symbols; it can be a tool to educate students about the real income potential, what taxes are and how they work, and how they can structure their education towards a career that can support their needs and maybe a few wants.  This is the real, day-to-day power of information and the only hope to resolve this instant-gratification, impulse-buying, advertising-driven, debt-laden, consumerist mentality that has also allowed people to outspend what they could realistic earn.  Thoughts?

Ack, the budget!

Okay, so after 2 hours of running around and learning circ a la trial by fire method, I sit down to read about the terrible state of community college databases. As previously noted, I am well aware of the financial shortfall and how much that shortfall is for the community college budget in California. However, the most recent notice, regarding databases, shocked me by stating that, in short, we may not have ANY!!!! As is the norm in librariana, another association, the Council of Chief Librarians, discusses the issues and problems facing librarians, albeit those of the community college variety in California. Luckily, I seem to meet all of those criteria (ok, maybe not a chief, but someday…) so its latest notice about the database funding applies. Unlike the UCs or the Cal States, the community colleges aren’t working with more than a handful or two of databases for our very varied population. Now, we are talking about none, nada, zip, zilch, niente, and any other word indicating a complete absence. How are we supposed to serve online students? Telecourse students? Regular, everyday students that cringe at the thought of looking for a book on the shelf, let alone dusting off some microform? Given hidden budget pockets here and there, we may still have one database available, but what about the Nursing students who need medical articles or the general population needing information on a variety of topics from scholarly sources?  Given my own, limited realm of power in adjusting the budget one way or another, I’m wondering what ideas you may have that could help us better assist our students in this period of info scarcity.  Thoughts? *Free* web content recommendations?

Fun with Statistics!

So, according to the NY Times, today’s graduates ought to be statisticians…Hmmm, well, libraries already seem to place a large focus on statistics as metrics to evaluate the utility and value of libraries in our communities; some of the common sets of stats range from usage stats, return on investment figures, and program attendance.  Admittedly, statistics aren’t that much fun, but I wanted to learn more about my patron community and figured some government system must have some information on the web about it.  California’s Community College Data Mart is one prime source for basic info on gender, race, and enrollment types.  Expanding on Data Mart’s basic information, RAND California provides a more user-friendly, content rich set of statistics, including percentages and figures of students based on the number of units taken, but at a cost.  For a brief, pre-digested overview, you can also look at the Community College League’s Fast Facts. Taking a general look at community college statistics on the web, I came across a few surprises:

  1. Women in the 50+ crowd, regardless of ethnicity, were almost double the amount of men from the same age range and ethnic group enrolled.  This trend also appeared to be consistent across the other colleges I surveyed in Santa Barbara, Compton, and San Francisco.
  2. As of Spring 2009, the hardest hit areas by the recession did not see the greatest enrollment increases, as Cuesta College presents as both a graphic and a spreadsheet.
  3. The University of Phoenix, online campus had a total enrollment of 165,373 students, making it the largest degree granting university of college in the entire US.
  4. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, in 2003,  state appropriations make up approximately 38% and tutition and fees 20% of the average community college’s revenue.  In California, I found that the current appropriation of $3.114 billion is actual lower than the 2002-2003 amount of $3.685 billion and a significant decrease from the 2007-2008 amount of $5.135 billion.  No wonder everyone is in a state of shock.  I’m almost afraid to look at the impact on individual campuses.

While I still keep the thought in the back of my mind that 60% of statistics are made up on the spot, these sources of information provide some interesting starting points to develop queries and analyses about the who, the what, and the revenue source for our library and education centers and how things like budget cuts, economic recessions, and my patron base will impact our future careers.