State on precipice of temporary fiscal relief
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 16:08
The need for higher education has never been more prevalent than now.
However, tuition fees and budget cuts have made, and continue to make, it more difficult to pay for a college education.
Over the past four fiscal years the Contra Costa Community College District has seen a $21 million cut in state funding.
With the state having a $16 billion deficit — cuts in courses, staff and even construction plans have been an annual occurrence over the past four years. Contra Costa College has not been exempt.
In fall 2002, CCC offered 924 course sections. In 2012, just a decade later, it has dropped 229 sections, offering 695 for the current academic year. As the state budget decreases, more and more course offerings are being cut and the cost of education continues to rise.
In 1960, California adopted the “Master Plan,” legislation that provided free higher education to residents of the state.
After budgetary problems arose, the state enacted the first tuition fee of $5 to all community colleges in 1984.
Now 28 years later, the tuition fee has made a steady rise to $46, increasing $10 per year in the last three years alone. That means a full-time student taking 12 units a semester is paying $240 more per semester than two years ago.
While some people pay their new tuition fee, not all have money to comply, especially in low-income areas.
In 2009, www.acteonline.org conducted a survey revealing that 62 percent of jobs in America require a two- or four-year degree, post secondary occupation certificates or apprenticeships. It projected in the year 2020 that number would rise to 75 percent. The job industry and economy are making it more necessary to go to college, yet the budget makes it harder each year to do so.
It would seem that the people supposed to be fixing the economy and making jobs more accessible are ultimately just making it harder and harder for people to climb out of the financial hole they find themselves in today.
In comes Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 and Contra Costa Community College District’s parcel tax initiative which, if passed by voters, will increase the district’s General Fund.
While this is not a permanent solution it would provide breathing room for alternate solutions to be discussed.
The community colleges of California have had the life squeezed out of them for far too long now.
What they need more than anything is a breath of fresh air.