It’s simple math. We, a generation of thoughtful, ambitious go-getters are taught by just about every adult we encounter the importance of education. It’s important to land that respectable, well-paying job, and to do this we have to do just one thing: Go to college.

But now, more than ever, pockets are tight and cash is low, and suddenly going to college no longer seems to be the ideal, cost-feasible option it once was. You know, back in like 2000 (before Bush screwed us over).

Today’s national and statewide recessions are affecting almost all walks of life, and new struggles for college students and their parents prove that even they can’t escape the brutal economic downpour. Back when Governor Schwarzenegger constructed his budget plan for the 2008-2009 fiscal cycle, cuts to education set California plummeting farther down below the national average in per-pupil spending.

And if you haven’t started pinching pennies, now’s a good time; the situation doesn’t look to be improving anytime soon. As the threat of a $42 billion deficit by mid-2010 lingers over taxpayers’ shoulders, the State Legislature is still teetering on the approval of Schwarzenegger’s latest fix, a proposal filled with layoff plans, an idea to shorten the school year and of course, $8 billion worth of budget cuts.

In recent months, college campuses across the state have been forced to modify their academic policies including all-important admission standards to cope with the harsh times. Among these campuses is the most popular option for students, the University of California, or the UC system. Home to over 226,000 undergraduates and graduates throughout nine public universities, the UC system responded to reduced funding with a cut to admission rates for the upcoming fall semester.

The result: the rejection of over 6,000 qualified students from admittance to their first-choices of college campuses.

“I think it’s sad. Getting into college is already stressful enough. Because of the economy, the idea that more people will be denied from their dreams is a really unfortunate outcome,” says Millie Tran, 19, a current UCLA sophomore who is studying computer science and Arabic.

Another public university system in California, the 23 Cal State colleges, took similar action. With twice the number of students attending Cal State campuses than UCs, officials decided they would not only cut enrollment by 10,000 incoming freshmen but also toughen enrollment criteria and move up deadlines to make the application process more difficult.  

And if that weren’t enough, a salary freeze was enacted last month preventing over a hundred top Cal State faculty members and administrators from receiving pay increases of any kind during the 2009-10 school year.

Though public colleges seem to be most devastated by the economy’s blows, private universities are no exception. What might have been a shock to many students, the University of Southern California, in response to a decreased endowment and reduction in campus-wide funding, announced last November that the university would end all hiring for the current fiscal year until June 2009. Though USC promises acceptance rates will not change, perhaps the number of applicants to infamously expensive private schools will.

Economic crisis, $50,000 tuition, everyone’s broke … just a hunch.

Community colleges might be the best solution for students who want to go to college but would still like to afford other things, like food and water. About two-thirds of California’s college students have chosen the two-year alternative, but that amount is expected to inflate by 10 percent this year. The promise is that after two years, they would be prepared to transfer to a four-year school.

The only problem with that promise is that students forgot to read the fine print, right next to the “bad economy” clause. Not only are community colleges cutting classes, packing classrooms to capacity and laying off teachers, transfer rates are falling dramatically, which could mean a huge, unforeseen road block in the future.

You have been warned.

As the great saying goes, “Things have to get worse before they get better.” Until then, stock up on Easy Mac.