Academic Angst – $10 fee hike on the horizon

Co-Writer: Daniel Hernandez.

Despite signs of economic recovery, California community colleges face another round of budget cuts and a tuition increase of at least $10 per unit beginning in July.

In a public forum held Tuesday at SAC, Chancellor Raul Rodriguez and Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Services Peter Hardash said that there will be across-the-board cuts to course offerings, and that the district is moving forward with one of three cost-cutting plans based on how the legislature funds higher education.

Of three plans, the first and best-case scenario would involve $500,000 in further cuts from the Rancho Santiago Community College District.

If plan A fails, plan B would reduce the current budget by $4.4 million for the two-college district.

The worst-case scenario, the so-called “all cuts” budget, would slash $13 million.

“With an ‘all-cuts’ budget, in all of our communities, we’re going to see young people turned away from our colleges and universities everywhere,” said California Community College Chancellor Jack Scott. “We know the devastation that could occur for our students and our future here in California and we’re very concerned.”

Hardash said Santa Ana College is prepared for the best-case scenario.

“Last year the college made cuts of about 3 percent, and the state never cut the budget.  The cuts rolled over to the budget this year,” said Hardash. “It saved the college from twice the amount of layoffs there would have been this year.”

But that won’t stop a fee increase of $10 per unit, from $26 to $36. SAC would cut at least five percent of its classes next semester, causing enrollment to decrease by a minimum of five percent.

READ MORE:  Cutbacks could raise units $10

Norman Fujimoto, vice president of academic affairs, said the tuition increase will decrease the amount the district has to cut next year.

“I was pretty shocked when I heard about the increase. We already don’t have a lot of money and our economy is falling to pieces,” said SAC student Naraith Soun.

On average, the cost would be $432 a semester for a full-time student taking 12 units, a $120 increase.

“Students are already really pressed for funds, so to add on another $10 per unit is definitely an increased burden for students to take on,” said John Zarske, president of the Academic Senate.

In 2003-04, tuition went from $11 to $18 and contributed to an enrollment of 300, 000 fewer students. Then in 2004-05, the fee increased to $26 per unit, which caused an enrollment decline of about 140, 000 students.

“Students must understand that it’s not the board raising the tuition, but it’s the state legislatures,” said Associated Student Government President Nadia Lopez.  “All the efforts of the students’ rallies failed.”

Chancellor Rodriguez at town hall meetingChancellor Raul Rodriguez
: TOWN HALL:Chancellor Raul Rodriguez and Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Services Peter Hardash met with faculty and classified employees Tuesday to address their concerns regarding the state of college education. The current fiscal crisis and the gaping $26 billion budget deficit threatens to eat into public education spending

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