Extra fee reserves high-demand seats
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 18:05
California has been trying to find ways to alleviate its budget woes with cuts and tuition hikes, despite an increase in student demand.
And in an attempt to keep students in college, Santa Monica College’s Governing Board trustees approved a two-tiered proposal in March.
“This is a terrible recession that we are in and it will take three years before the state’s budget can come back to what it was, and by that time people’s lives would be ruined,” SMC Governing Board Trustee Rob Rader said. “The state has already shrunk 50 programs from schools which turned away at least 15,000 students. We have to do something other than what we are currently doing because it’s not working.”
The two-tiered proposal would offer certain high demand classes for a higher price when the regular classes have filled up.
The college would hold high-demand classes, such as math or English courses, at a cost of around $180 to $200 per unit, which would ensure the student the class, Rader said.
While students who receive financial aid can use the money to pay for the class, Rader said that the college would seek out private funds and money from the federal government to help support those who cannot afford to pay for the class.
In April, however, California Community College Chancellor Jack Scott asked the trustees to put a hold on the proposal as he expressed concerns about the proposal’s legality.
“When we learned about the proposal, some of its arrangements weren’t allowed by the state’s education codes,” said Paul Feist, state vice chancellor for communications. “We determined that the proposal couldn’t be permitted because it is illegal.”
Community colleges will raise tuition from $36 per unit to $46 for the summer semester.
While the two-tiered fee hike is currently postponed, the proposal, if passed, would change the atmosphere of community colleges, Contra Costa College Interim President Dan Henry said.
“The proposal is contrary to the mission of California community colleges which is to provide accessibility to everyone,” Henry said. “I see the creativity in the proposal, but it is a flawed approach.”
Several CCC students and staff agreed that they were opposed to the two-tiered idea, and that if the proposal was to pass, it would put a damper on their morale.
“The state needs to invest its money into education,” United Faculty President Jeffrey Michels said. “The money should be coming from taxpayers not the students.”
Student Velfrancis Myers, 20, agreed.
“(The proposal) would put a hole in my pockets as it’s already hard enough to get a job,” Myers said. “This college is right in the middle of the neighborhood and it should be free.”
While Feist and Rader disagree on some levels as far as if the two-tiered proposal should pass, they both agree that they need to come up with more ways to help better fund community colleges through the economic crisis.