Position Paper on Impaction:
By: Kimberly Fuentes, Research Director
Dallas Rippy, Chief of Staff
As of this writing, over half of all K-12 children in California are Latino. In California we strive for our children to move on to higher education. Education can be the silver bullet for economic mobility, civic engagement, and hope for the future generations. CSU impaction hurts those who need the most help. Students from lower income families are hamstrung by impacted campuses. These students are forced to take out more student loan debt to account for the extra years needed to graduate from college. A majority of Latino college students are the first generation to go to college in their family. In fact, “62% of all bachelor’s degrees granted to California’s Hispanic students are conferred by the CSU.” With more Latino students going to college than ever before, this has become a Latino issue. They do not have the same resources and capital as other students in terms of navigating the college application and completion process. Upon entering the CSU, students find themselves in institutions that are heavily impacted at the academic level, the program level and sometimes both. This adversely affects California’s students, and its Latino students in particular.
There are currently six CSU campuses that are considered impacted at all academic levels and all program levels, and three of them are considered Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). An HSI is any college campus with a Latino enrollment greater than 25%. Currently throughout the state of California, there are 23 CSU campuses, 16 of which are HSIs. Of those 16, 12 are considered impacted at some level. Only six campuses that are considered impacted at some level are not HSIs. The impaction issue is deeply concerning for Latino students such that 75% of HSI’s are impacted whereas 58% of non HSI’s are impacted.
Latino students are more likely than any other ethnic group to be the first generation in their family to attend college, and impaction is not only making it more difficult for these students to attend college in the first place but also to finish once they get there. According to the CSU website, “More than one-third of the CSU’s entering freshmen are among the first generation of their families to attend college.” Latino’s have the highest non-completion rate of all ethnic groups attending college. Latino students often cite financial concerns for not attending or completing college. “In 2014, 35% of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in a two- or four-year college, up from 22% in 1993 – a 13-percentage-point increase.” With the strides being made for more Latino students to attend a two or four year college this comes at a cause for concern. These students are the most greatly affected by impaction, because they are the ones who have taken the greatest strides to improve their education.
As of 2017, the CSU’s annual support budget is at 5.77 billion. Half of the CSU’s revenue is dependent on the state general fund that is provided by the State Legislature and Governor. The support budget request augmentation represents the CSU’s actual fiscal needs as the request calls for an increase of $ 343.7 million in state funding. Through these funding efforts, the university system will be able to move forward with their dedication in supporting students with a quality education. If we intend to break ground on the equity gap that continues to remain, sustainable funding is vital to the future of the students attending CSUs. California itself is making great strides towards innovation, the success of the CSU system is essential in that regard. The CSU Chancellor Timothy White has stated that the CSU system strives to keep its standards high and remove barriers to achievement. Noting the pattern of impaction however, that is an underlining barrier that will disproportionately affect low income students and students of color. The state needs to fully fund the CSU’s proposed 2015-2016 operating budget totaling a $269 million increase, and in turn the university will be funded for a 3% net enrollment growth.
Increased funding is imperative for the educational attainment and upward mobility of the future generations that is vital in the progression of our economy. To cover the loss of funding at the state level, the CSU has needed to increase tuition. With the 5% increased tuition hike and the level of impaction across the CSU’s the students are burdened to take out more loans. It was found that despite the amount of financial aid attainable to CSU students, “student loan debt continues to be concentrated among the lowest-income college grads.” The average amount of student loan debt for the lower income bracket was greater than $16,000 and over half (57%) of all Hispanic/Latino/a students had graduated with student debt. It has come at a greater cost for students to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in the CSU system. These troubling factors should be taken into account as it is integral to increase state funding to support these students. With the increased state funding, it would improve “tenure-track faculty hiring, academic advisor ratios, eAdvising, College readiness efforts, and use of data to ensure resources are dedicated to most important factors” resulting in student success. Given the lack of funding on the state level the CSU has had no other course of action other than including an increased tuition hike and in turn students are burdened with an increased cost towards their education. With this on the line, the university will have an additional 18.8 million in revenue through the tuition hike and will be admitting an additional 4,520 students.
One of the responses to impaction has been the Graduation initiative 2025. The CSU budget allocation for the 2017-2018 is heavily reliant on bringing forth the ambitious goals of graduation initiative 2025. Although the CSU has received additional funding from state, it is not enough to fund all fully eligible applicants. The demand is exceeding the resources necessary to provide for our students in the CSU system. To solely consider graduation rates as the alternative to impaction disregards other factors that could lessen the rate of impaction for students that are enrolling in the CSU. If that financial cost is not being met then there continues to be the problem of impaction at the CSU levels. The governor’s office has indicated in their budget plan to increase state funding for the CSU’s allocation towards the 2017-2018 budgets by 161.2 million. That leaves the CSU with a budget gap of 171 million which is necessary to cover the cost of salaries, infrastructure, programs put into place to fulfill the graduation 2025 initiative.
The biggest concern to California as a whole is supporting the growing diversity in college campuses. These students are in turn falling between the cracks of the educational pipeline and have severely limited prospects for the future as a result of impaction. As stated above, the majority of children K-12 ages in California are now Latino, and impaction squeezes out these Latino students. If demographics continue, California will become dependent on the success of these Latino students. Impaction not only fails these students, but it also harms California’s future. With the success of the California economy going to depend on college educated Latinos in the future this is damaging to the future of the state. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that at current trends California will be 1.1 million college educated workers short by 2030. If impaction continues, this number will only increase. California is already on pace to be over a million college educated workers short if we wanted to continue our current economic growth. It is critical that California does all it can to reduce this gap.
With CSU’s forced to follow the impaction course, more students are instead turning to community college. This will create a similar problem at California’s Community Colleges, driving up costs, and reducing the available space for students. As more and more students go through the K-12 years hearing they should go to college, more eventually begin to attend college. These students go to improve their future potential, but instead of being welcomed with support they are met with a system making it increasingly more difficult for them to graduate.
Impaction results in higher costs, which results in lower income students not finishing their college education. This trend is alarming for the California Latino community, who lag behind other ethnic groups in college completion. It is only recently that Latinos in California began to catch up with their peers.
Impaction must come to an end if we are to improve the future for California. When Latino students achieve their college dreams, California succeeds. We must adopt a policy that drives Latino students forward to succeed. Impaction goes back on the promise that was made to these students when they started high school; which was: work hard and you can go to your local CSU and graduate within five years. Now, impaction threatens to revoke that entirely. Impaction is sure to lengthen the amount of time it takes for students to graduate, which in turn results in higher rates of incompletion and higher student loan debt. California and the Latino community in particular cannot afford to pay this price. If educated Latinos are the future, impaction will dramatically reduce our capabilities for prosperity in the future.