Students and Community in California Take on Big Oil to ReFund Education

California – With student debt reaching over $1 trillion nationally and college tuition continuing to skyrocket, dozens of major national organizations representing students, youth, labor, veterans and policy organizations have come together to unite their efforts to tackle what has become a student debt crisis in America. Higher Ed Not Debt, a new, multi-year campaign to address the twin issues of education debt and college affordability launched on Thursday, March 6, with dozens of events across the country.  

Higher Ed, Not Debt was formed with four key goals: addressing the existing $1.2 trillion of debt; increasing the affordability and quality of higher education; combating the privatization of higher education and the role of Wall Street in compounding the student debt crisis; and sparking civic engagement and political participation among young people.  

“If you’re not rich, in America, college costs more. It costs more because you have to borrow the money and pay and pay and pay. And not just pay the cost of the education, not just pay over time the cost to borrow, but pay to produce a profit,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren at the national launch in Washington, DC. “This thing is a monster that keeps getting and bigger and bigger every single day.”

Here in California, the ReFund California coalition kicked off this national campaign with events in San Francisco and Los Angeles calling for the passage of SB 1017 (Evans) the Oil & Gas Extraction Tax which will raise $2 Billion to fund education and vital services.

Additional revenue is urgently needed. As East LA Community College student Sonny Martinez said, “The biggest misconception about community colleges is that the students are to blame if they don’t graduate in two years when it’s actually the lack of funding that prevents them. It’s only fair that oil companies pay their fair share, so students like me can get an education without wasting years of their lives and falling deeper and deeper into debt.”

The UC, CSU and Community College systems are still far behind pre-crisis funding levels, despite some improvement in state funding since the passage of Prop 30. Faced with the need to borrow more and more, both students and the institutions themselves are burdened with sky-rocketing debt.  52% of California college seniors who graduated last year had student debt, and the average debt amount was $20,269!

ReFund California is bringing students, workers, and community together to address this revenue crisis by building public and political support for holding big corporations and the 1% accountable and making them pay their fair share towards a California that works for everyone.  

For photos of the actions, see:…