Position on Public Higher Education


State or National: 
Position in Brief: 

The League of Women Voters of California supports a comprehensive system of public higher education that serves the personal, professional, and occupational goals of all adult Californians and advances the social, economic, and civic needs of the state. To achieve these objectives, public higher education must prioritize access, affordability, equity, and excellence. These priorities require state funding, including student financial aid, that is stable, predictable, sustainable, and timely.



1. Support a comprehensive system of pubic higher education that provides access to educational opportunities to advance both individual and public goals. Support measures that:

  1. provide post-secondary opportunities for personal and professional growth;
  2. sustain upward economic mobility across all population groups;
  3. advance the economic and civic goals of local communities and the state;
  4. provide and maintain a steady stream of educated Californians to ensure leadership from all sectors of society.


2. Support equitable access to public higher education and equitable rates of completion. Support measures that:

  1. increase the diversity of enrollment and completion rates in the community colleges and public four-year universities to reflect the diversity of the state’s population;
  2. increase the initial freshman enrollment in public four-year universities of qualified California high school graduates from low-income and underrepresented minority groups.
  3. provide effective specialized services for those students (such as emancipated foster youth, veterans, and disabled, homeless, incarcerated, first-generation, and/or low-income students) who need additional support to facilitate their successful certificate or degree completion.

Funding and Financial Aid

3. Support state funding for California public higher education and student financial aid. Support measures that:

  1. ensure funding that meets the objectives of public higher education;
  2. ensure funding that is stable, predictable, and timely;
  3. ensure that the full cost of higher education attendance, including tuition, fees, food, housing, transportation, and books or other educational materials, is affordable for all qualified students, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances;
  4. share the full cost of attendance in public higher education between government and students or their families based on ability to pay;
  5. provide adequate funding for services for students with special circumstances, such as emancipated foster youth, veterans, and disabled, homeless, incarcerated, first-generation, and/or low-income students;
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  6. provide effective counseling to enable students and their families to plan and access financing for their college education;
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  7. develop additional revenue sources for public higher education as needed.


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4. Support programs that foster coordination and articulation between preK-12 school districts and public higher education so that all high school graduates are prepared for college-level coursework and/or gainful employment. Support measures that:

  1. expand opportunities for high school students to begin earning college credits in high school;
  2. advise all students and their families about the wide range of career and college opportunities;
  3. provide outreach to students from underrepresented communities as well as disadvantaged, low-income, and first-generation students while they are still in the preK-12 system to encourage and assist with college applications for admission and financial aid.

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Degree Completion

5. Support programs that increase attainment of certificates, and associate, baccalaureate, and professional degrees. Support measures that:

  1. improve articulation among the three higher education sectors to construct curriculum pathways that enable students to transfer smoothly to four-year universities;
  2. increase enrollment capacity at the four-year universities to serve more transfers and entering freshman;
  3. utilize research-based models to increase baccalaureate degree attainment and coordination of the three higher education sectors;
  4. support the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based improvements in curriculum, instruction, and placement to enhance student success and degree attainment.

Workforce Development and Adult Education

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6. Support access to credit, non-credit, and workforce training and development. Support measures that:

  1. expand and increase completion of programs, including certificate programs, that fulfill labor needs and enable people to be trained/retrained for meaningful jobs and careers ;
  2. provide credit and non-credit adult education courses with entry-level opportunities into post-secondary education, courses such as English as a Second Language, and/or courses that support lifelong learning.

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Improving California Public Higher Education

7. Support a comprehensive system of public higher education with viable access points for all adult Californians. Support measures that:

  1. continue to prioritize the dual values of access and excellence that were embedded in the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education;
  2. create a mechanism, such as an oversight body, to improve coordination and articulation among the three higher education sectors;
  3. evaluate the functioning and efficacy of higher education as a system;
  4. provide nonpartisan analysis and recommendations for improvement;
  5. develop a longitudinal student database to track enrollment, transfer and completion rates across all three higher education sectors and provide feedback to pK-12 schools;
  6. expand the use of new technologies, such as online education, that increase student access and success.

Adopted by the LWVC board July 2016

Position History: 

More about the Higher Education Study.