Finance & Affordability

Paying for the full cost of attending college—including housing, food, and connectivity—is the biggest barrier to success for most California learners, particularly students of color, first-generation students, those impacted by poverty, and others marginalized by our systems. Though California has one of the strongest financial aid programs in the country, the current system does not fully account for the complex financial lives of most learners, many of whom are working and supporting family members while they pursue a postsecondary degree.

California needs an approach to financial aid and robust support for non-tuition costs that is simple to understand and access, and that allows students to complete their postsecondary education without taking on unmanageable debt.

At the same time, California’s public institutions of higher education have faced mounting and compounded pressures in recent years, from reduced revenue and competition from other institutions to major technological changes and students’ shifting college plans.

At College Futures Foundation, we believe that higher education leaders, stakeholders, and policymakers can meet this moment thoughtfully, see it as an opportunity, and make the most of the changes accelerated by the pandemic to transform our higher education system to be truly sustainable, equitable, and student-serving. The time is ripe to reimagine how educational methods and experiences, delivery, and financing can deliver students to their goals in an accessible, affordable, and timely way.

Our priorities in this area include:

  • Maximizing access to available state and federal aid for the learners most impacted by poverty.
  • Simplifying and streamlining the process and platforms through which students apply for and receive financial aid and other supports.
  • Exploring state and institutional budgeting practices that stabilize funding and prioritize access, affordability, and closing equity gaps.
  • Exploring innovations to the basic business model for public higher education—including its system of finance—to improve access, success, and equitable outcomes for diverse students.