Budget cuts may cause increase in per-unit fee

McKenzie Sixt

California Community Colleges may see per-unit fee increases, caps on the number of units a tax-paying student can acquire, and a $400 million reduction apportionments.

The Legislative Analysts Office suggested these changes, Jan. 19, in their findings regarding The 2011-12 Budget.

The LAO is a neutral office which provides fiscal and policy information and advice to the Legislature. Their recent findings address Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget and how CCC should cope with the drastic cuts and fee increases to education.

“The Governor’s 2011–12 budget proposal for higher education includes sizable General Fund reductions to help balance the state budget, increases in student tuition and fees to partially back-fill those reductions, and increases in student aid to help prevent cost increases from affecting access for financially needy students,” states the LAO.

“That $10 increase could affect students who work and support themselves,” said Saddleback student, Claire Canada, 19, anthropology.

“I probably would not be able to take as many classes at a time as I would like,” Canada said. “I have to pay for classes myself, and I couldn’t afford it with the increase.”

A fee increase of any kind can be dramatic for those students struggling financially. However, students qualifying for the Board of Governor’s (BOG) fee waiver program would not be effected by the increases. The BOG waives enrollment fees for financially needy, resident of California students regardless of the fee level, according to the LAO.

The $400 million reduction to CCC apportionments, would leave 80,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students without funding, according to the LAO. However, the proposed $36 per-unit increase could help salvage some of the lost funds by raising “about $110 million in additional fee revenues,” according to the LAO.

Additional fee revenue would make funds available to support 23,000 FTE students and net base reductions for the 2011-12 budget would decrease from $400 million to $290 million.

Per-unit increase from $26 to $36 may seem detrimental to the wallet, but “even at $36 per unit, CCC fees would remain significantly below the national average,” according to the LAO.

Continuing to look on the bright side of the per-unit increase, the LAO states that CCC would have more money to spend on providing programs and services that would be unavailable otherwise.

David Bugay, Vice-Chancellor of Human Resources, addressed other budget recommendations by the LAO including, the suspension of Proposition 98, which would reduce funding for Physical Education courses and increase student fees, according to the South Orange County Community College District 2010-2011 final budget.

Community College State Chancellor Jack Scott reported in the final budget, “one effect of the budget problems is that in the academic year class sections were reduced by 6% throughout California. This means 140,000 community college students were unable to enroll in any classes.”

These budget cuts are all changes that would need to be made at CCCs if Gov. Brown’s tax proposals do not pass in the June election. However, Saddleback and Irvine Valley College will not be severely impacted, said Bugay in a previous statement.

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