Tuition increases cause concern

Jason Chung

California community college students have seen a 77 percent tuition increase over a one-year period. That may seem like a heavy burden, but it’s still a bargain considering the quality of the education provided.

Instead of relying on the state to fund our education, students need to step up and contribute their share of the fees. If we want to enjoy the same quality of education, there is no other way.

The California community college system has already absorbed $769 million in cuts since the 2009-10 school year, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

As a result, many colleges took drastic steps to keep costs low, including less course offerings and larger class sizes. Course offering across the system had already dropped by five percent this fall semester when tuition rose from $26 to $36 per unit, and approximately 140,000 students were denied enrollment due to class cuts, according to a report from the CCCCO.

South Orange County has been fortunate to not experience this yet. But in Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego and San Jose, students are already being denied enrollment by the thousands because the number of students trying to apply for classes has overwhelmed the shrinking system, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a news service providing college and university news and information.

If the two colleges in our district do not find a way to relief their budget problem soon, they will have to resort to the same cost-cutting measures eventually. This will translate into letting go faculty members, setting limits on enrollment, and lowering the number of courses offered.

This means we will have to stay in community colleges longer because there won’t be enough seats for us to complete our courses in a two-year span. Ultimately, we are the ones that will suffer the most from cut programs and services.

In the face of massive state budget cuts to education, we can’t expect tuition to remain level while maintaining the same quality of education. The community college system simply does not have the money to meet its current operating costs.

“The state revenue needed to support one community college full-time student is slightly more than $5,000 per year,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott in a media advisory notice.

Besides, California’s community college tuition and fees are currently the lowest in the country, only $1,119 compared to the national average of $3,288 for two-year colleges, according to College Board’s Trend in College Pricing 2011 report. After the $10 increase, only New Mexico will be cheaper.

Considering the costs of attending a four-year university, our savings are still substantial. For a full-time student, the fee hike will only result in an extra $400 spread out over a 12-month period.

But the $10 hike in fees will generate about $110 million for the colleges to support an additional 50,000 students, according to the CCCCO.

In fact, tuition increase won’t affect students as much as they fear. The federal government is filling the gap with increased aid and scholarship packages, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.

Getting an education is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. We have to be aware of our situation and be realistic. The state has no money and cuts were already made. Tuition increase is the last resort and the only people who can save our education are ourselves. Don’t fight the tuition increase. Step up and contribute.

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