Community college is more than just something to do with spare time after high school graduation. It is the stepping stone to educating California’s workforce.
I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t want to spend less money on their education. While the thought of spending less money sounds great, the reality is that if the tuition fees are reduced, there will be a loss of revenue to the school systems which will need to be made up from money California doesn’t have.
At $20 a unit, it costs about $480 a year for classes alone for a full time student only taking 12 units. Not unreasonable considering many community college professors also teach at universities. A university education at the community college level at nowhere near university prices – sounds ok to me.
A person who says that cannot afford to take classes, likely cannot afford many other things. Luckily in California, many students qualify to receive financial aid. There are student work programs and fee waivers for those who qualify which covers the cost of all units. If someone truly can’t afford college, the state ensures that this doesn’t stop them from obtaining an education.
Tuition in California is already the lowest in the nation by a huge margin. In 1960 California created a master plan to offer higher education to a much broader basis. Up until 1984 there wasn’t even a fee to attend community college! In the last decade, fees have fluctuated between $11 and $26 while administrators try to determine what the most effective fee is. When the fee was $26 in 2004, enrollment plummeted as teachers and students protested the drastic jump. In an effort to bring more students to school, fees were reduced to $20.
Now Proposition 92 is on the ballots to drop fees to $15 and limit future increases. This would mean that for a 12-unit full time student, classes would cost $360 – a difference of only $120. $120 is less than many monthly car payments.
Fees account for less than 10% of a student’s incurred community college costs and about a third of a schools income, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
The rest of the money comes from local property taxes and the state’s general fund. Considering that there is only a $120 difference a year for a student if the fees lowered, it actually means a projected loss of $70 million annually for the school. This $70 million will have to come from somewhere else and news flash – California is in debt.
If fees are the smallest part of a student’s monetary obligation, it would make more sense to work with the book publishers so that new editions aren’t coming out every other year, which restricts the “buy-back” program the book stores offer and helps families and friends who pass books down.
To make up for the loss of revenue, other programs would be cut and it could be from the K-12 schools. It could mean money is funneled away from the UC’s and CSU’s. It could mean loss of teachers. The purpose is to keep education affordable, but in the end it will cost everyone.