Governor’s proposed budget caps units

FULL HOUSE: Brown’s budget proposal emphasizes online coursework to alleviate overcrowded classes.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Community colleges focus on transfer degrees.

Community college students will be limited to 90 course units at subsidized rates if the Legislature passes Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget by June 15. Students will be required to pay the full cost of instruction after accumulating these units.

Since the establishment of public school systems, state funded colleges and universities have tried to make education accessible by keeping costs low. However, the state can no longer afford these costs.

With a unit cap, students would pay unsubsidized costs of attending classes for any additional semester credits; units after completing 90 credits, a difference of about $144 more per unit at community colleges. At UC campuses, students will be capped at 270 quarter units, and 180 semester units at CSUs, for the first two years of the proposal. By the third year,

UC and CSU students will not be allowed to accumulate more than the equivalent of an additional year of course work.

“It’s already too much,” Preet Kaur, an international student at Santa Ana College, said. “I’ve been studying here for three years, and each year tuition goes up.”

Officials will also be more vigilant with financial aid. If the Legislature passes the governor’s budget, students will have to report personal income information and both parents earnings when applying for the Board of Governors Fee Waiver.

For some students, like Rosa Chavarria, whose waiver covered 34 units last year, it is the only way they can go to school.

The state’s higher education systems must also make policy and curriculum changes to meet funding requirements based on course completion, rather than number of students enrolled.

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“Enrollment is complicated. There are so many factors that contribute to a student’s completion,” said Linda Rose, vice president of Academic Affairs, who added that students need to be part of the solution.

Brown, however, urges educators to focus on the number of degrees earned. His proposal emphasizes online courses to alleviate overcrowding in high-demand classes. He also urges a focus on adult education at community colleges, and tighter verifications of financial need.

About $16.9 million will be allocated to community colleges to increase the number of classes and create a virtual campus.

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