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College fees could increase

Officials are concerned that higher costs will lower enrollment rates at community colleges

Posted: July 2, 2009 10:03 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Students walk up the stairs to the library at College of the Canyons. Proposed increases would raise community college enrollment fees from $20 per unit to $26 per unit in an attempt to offset budget cuts.

 

California legislators are eyeing a community college fee increase as a way to help balance the state budget.

The proposal would increase enrollment fees from $20 to $26 a unit, generating $80 million statewide that would be returned to community colleges to offset budget cuts, said Paige Marlatt Dorr, director of communications for California Community Colleges.

For a full-time student taking 12 units, the fee hike would mean a 30 percent increase each semester — from $240 a semester to $312 a semester.

One student called the proposal “irresponsible” and “short-sighted.”

“It definitely effects the access to education for our students,” said Nicolas Cardenas, who serves as student trustee for the district. “Especially in these times when many people of many different backgrounds need to get to work or get trained to keep their jobs.

“With the fee increase, I think it’ll be locking out a lot of students,” Cardenas said Thursday.

But several students on campus Wednesday seemed untroubled by the proposal.

“I’d be fine with it even at $30,” said 22-year-old Seth Hurd of Castaic. “They’ve got to do what they’ve got to  do to keep the place running.”

Hurd plans to enroll as a full-time student for the fall semester to study engineering.

“For a three-unit class, (it’s) an extra $20,” Hurd said. “I don’t think that makes all that much of a difference.”

Dylan Brown, 19, of Valencia said students have been talking about the fee increase plan in his summer school class.

While he called the proposal a “large increase,” Brown said his parents help pay for his education and he won’t be affected.

Enrollment could drop
Officials with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office say they’re concerned that increased fees would drop enrollment at the state’s 110 community colleges.

“Our experience indicates that larger fee increases drive away students, and that for a fee increase to achieve its end goal, it must be moderate,” said Terri Carbaugh, vice chancellor of the community college system.

“Raising student fees will not leverage additional federal financial aid for these students,” Carbaugh said in the statement.

“The Pell Grant won’t increase as a result of the state taking action to increase fees. Community college students will have less money available to cover other educationally related expenses such as textbooks.“

Getting out the word
Until the Legislature makes a decision, the college is keeping students informed about the possible fee increases.

“On all of our literature, (we’ve) warned students that there’s a potential fee increase,” said Deborah Rio, dean of enrollment services.

Students picking up a schedule of classes for the fall semester will find notices about the state budget crisis and its impact on College of the Canyons.

With registration for the fall semester to start in July, the community college is prepared to re-bill students for the new amount, she said.

“When this kind of thing happens, we are usually pretty understanding,” Rio said.

The college will most likely offer a grace period for students to come up with the difference, she said.

“This has happened a number of times,” she said.

In fall 2003, fees increased from $11 to $18. The following year, fees went up again from $18 to $26.

During the 2007 winter session, the fee was reduced from $26 to $20.

 

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