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California College Tuition Likely to Rise Again
by Cary O'Brien (obrienc [at]
Wednesday Mar 24th, 2004 3:01 PM
California college tuition likely to increase for the second consecutive year. Effects of past and proposed budget cuts on California community college system.
California College Tuition Likely to Rise Again

By: Cary O’Brien
March 11, 2004
Word Count ~ 557

California College students will likely pay more for college tuition for the second consecutive year. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most recent budget proposal includes a 44% increase in community college fees and a 10% increase for CSU and UC students. If combined with the increase approved last year that would be a 134% increase for community colleges and a 50% increase for the CSU and UC system in the last two years.

Supporters of this increase, including Gov. Schwarzenegger, point out California’s fees are on average, 40% lower than other states’ community college fees. The fees to attend community college in California are currently $18 per unit; this is up from $11 per unit last year. Last year’s 30% increase in fees for the CSU and UC system equals a $350 and a $777.50 increase per semester for a full-time student, respectively. The proposed budget plan would increase community college fees to $26 per unit. The additional 10% increase equates to an additional $102 for USC and $249 for UC full-time students each semester.

Two decades ago community college was free to all California residents. In 1960 the “Master Plan of Education” was adopted to ensure every Californian had access to a free college education. California was an innovative state, and many states followed California’s lead, offering free or low cost community college. The plan for free community college was in place until 1984, when a $5.00 per unit fee was put into effect.

To add to the problems of community colleges in California, the current budget cuts have resulted in a diminishing number of classes offered. As many as 80% of two-year college students work, and need classes to fit into their work schedules. Each academic year, fewer classes are offered to students in the time slots they need.

Will recent and possible future fee increases help the community colleges? Unfortunately the answer is no. Eloy Oakley, assistant superintendent at Long Beach Community College informed a Long Beach Press reporter, “The fee money goes to the state’s general fund. Any additional enrollment fee does not help us here at the college.”.

Due to the proposed budget cuts in California, the CSU and UC system have limited their enrollment of incoming freshmen and will continue to do so, in Fall 2004. 22,000 students are expected to be displaced from the universities. Students unable to attend the universities will crowd the already over-burdened community colleges in California. Even if some students choose out-of-state or private schools the projected growth is 25% more than community colleges are expected to educate.

The students that will suffer the most from this over population of the two-year college system in California are ones of lower socioeconomic status. They may not be familiar with the wait list process and may literally give up their spot in a class because they assume the class is not available to them. While students who were diverted from the CSU or UC system may have insider knowledge to wait it out and get a spot in the class. This concerns Sylvia Scott-Hayes, a trustee at the Los Angeles Community College District. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal she stated, “Many students who are turned away don’t come back.”.

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