View UC system as an investment, not a charity case

To the editor: George Skelton mischaracterizes and diminishes the pivotal role of the University of California system as simply one of many with its hand out. ("Many want more money; UC should get in line," Dec. 7)

Public higher education is not a cost. It's an investment in California with an unparalleled return: Every $1 from taxpayers yields nearly $14 in overall economic output. UC generates $46.3 billion in economic activity for California.


UC is also an engine for social mobility. Five UC campuses each enrolled more low-income students in 2012-13 than the entire Ivy League combined, and 41% of UC's 2013 freshman class were first-generation students.

While tuition has grown to offset state cuts, so has financial aid, which covers full tuition for 55% of California undergraduates. Nearly half of all undergraduates graduate without debt.

UC also has reduced costs while increasing efficiencies and new revenues, resulting in $660 million in savings.

Now that our economy has rebounded, California should recommit to UC so that we don't risk our investments and our future.

Nathan Brostrom, Oakland

The writer is chief financial officer for the UC office of the president.

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