National trends in the two-year student share are greatly impacted by California, which enrolls roughly 20% of the nation’s two-year enrollment. California dampens national two-year trends in two ways.
First, California has the lowest two-year student share by far, with student tuition revenue comprising only 3.1% of total education revenue. California’s low student share is due primarily to the state having among the lowest community college tuition charges in the nation and its practice of waiving tuition for low-income students. Excluding California from the data increases the national two-year student share from 24.1% to 30.2%.
Second, in stark contrast to most other states facing increases in student share, California’s student share at two-year public institutions has declined 1.4 percentage points since 2001. The decline in California’s student share is due to recent increases in state-funded financial aid for living costs that have more than made up for the rise in gross tuition revenue.