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Letters to the Editor: This is how easy and cheap attending a UC school once was

Students walk on the UC Berkeley campus in 2019.
(Josh Edelson / For The Times)

To the editor: I am a University of California system graduate, class of 1972. As a first-year student in 1968, I paid $105 per quarter plus books to attend. That modest amount covered some miscellaneous student fees and included campus health insurance. (“UC and CSU are unaffordable, and a 4-year degree isn’t the only way to succeed, Californians say in poll,” May 9)

I do not recall any significant competition for admission to any of the UC campuses. When I inquired about transferring to UC Berkeley, I was given a card to fill out. All I had to do was sign it and show up at the start of the next quarter.

Meanwhile, I paid $75 per month to share a nice two-bedroom apartment. I took out a $2,000 loan my third year in school to ensure a cash reserve and help establish good credit for the future. That loan was paid back within a year of graduating.

I look back on this as a time of affordable abundance. It is painful to see living in California becoming so much more expensive, with a lot less in return.

I pity the students trapped in a system that was once designed for essentially free access for all California students with good grades. This is a system that feasts at the trough of out-of-state tuition and deep-pocketed foreign students.

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Enrollment in a state public university should be barred to non-state residents until every California student has been served first. And then, can we move back to what was “free” higher education, funded by our record budget surplus?

Ralph Jones, Riverside

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To the editor: The article reporting that most Californians now see attending the state’s public university systems as unaffordable was informative and a bit disconcerting.

The focus was exclusively on whether people believed a four-year degree to be useful “to achieve better economic opportunities.” I never had the slightest sense that I would have a hard time finding a job, partly because I would do anything.

After I graduated high school, I got a job in a factory in East L.A. where I learned to drive a forklift and to weld. But I could not wait to start college — not to make more money, but to learn about science, history, politics and economics.

I suggest that you explore the extent to which curiosity should be a sufficient reason to attend a university. I’ll bet that lifelong curiosity about literature, language and ethics might actually lead to a more satisfying life and even a decent income.

Jim Mamer, San Diego

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To the editor: At 76 I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do remember my mother saying when I was in middle school that we were so lucky to live in California, because Gov. Pat Brown just made it so that every child in this state can get a college education.

I paid a few hundred dollars per year to attend UCLA and UC Berkeley. I taught high school for 40 years, an immensely rewarding (if not particularly lucrative) career.

The current lack of respect and support for public education is horrifying. I fear it foreshadows the demise of our democracy, which requires well-educated voters.

Kris Evans, Laguna Beach


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