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California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Prolonged Degree Completion in California Costs Students and State

07/01/2014

The Chronicle of Higher Education ~ July 1, 2014. Report: “The Real Cost of College: Time & Credits to Degree at California Community Colleges and California State University”

Organization: The Campaign for College Opportunity

Summary: Students who graduated with undergraduate degrees from the California State University system spent a median of 4.7 years to do so and earned 135 credits. Likewise, students who graduated from the state’s community colleges with associate degrees, which traditionally take two years to complete, now routinely take four years.

That prolonged period to obtain a college degree cost students in time and money. Collectively, Cal State students spent 22,126 more years in college and more than $220-million extra in tuition, fees, and room and board, compared with a traditional, four-year graduate. The state also lost money due to excess credits.

“Reducing average credits to degree by 1 percent (the equivalent of one credit), from 135 to 134, frees up $20-million in state expenditures at CSU which could potentially provide enrollment to more than 3,200 additional full-time students,” the report says. Likewise, if the state were able to cut the number of excess credits earned at community colleges by just one, to 77 credits, graduates would save $2-million and the state $21-million.

Bottom Line: Students who take longer to complete their degrees pay more and defer income.