Like other states, California went hunting for line items to cut after the 2008 financial crisis. Higher education went on a diet: Building maintenance was postponed, faculty taught larger classes, and students paid more. The squeeze continued a decline in per-student spending that had been happening since shortly after the turn of the millennium.
Since the recession, California’s higher ed budget has bounced back more than in other states. For example, the state is spending more per student on community colleges than it ever has.
But that doesn’t mean tuition prices have fallen. They’ve just started to level off—while the cost of living continues to rise.