Article - Office of College Advancement

State lowers community college fees

Schools hope $6 a unit break will lure more students; CSU, UC charges will stay the same

By Michelle Maitre, Staff writer

Monday, July 3, 2006—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area: The Argus.

The state budget gives community college students something to look forward to next year—lower fees.

The budget the governor signed Friday will lower community college fees from $26 to $20 per unit. The decrease takes effect in the spring semester, which typically begins in January.

The savings add up: Full-time students taking 15 units per semester will see their annual fees drop from $780 to $600.

The state budget provided an ongoing increase of $680 million in state general funds for the community college system, which serves more than 2.5 million students at 109 campuses.

"It's good news for us in the community college segment," said Deanna Walston, vice president of budget services for Ohlone College in Fremont. "It is good funding and certainly better than we've seen in recent years."

Walston said officials hope the fee decrease lures back some students who stopped taking classes as fees rose during the past several years, particularly adult students in search of enrichment classes.

Any savings help students, she said.

"I think there are some colleges that aren't sure if the six dollars is going to make a significant difference, but anything that helps provide more access for students is definitely a good thing," Walston said.

At Chabot College in Hayward, Chris Murphy, 18, did a quick calculation to see how much he would save and came up with about $80 a semester.

"I appreciate that greatly," Murphy said, before rattling off a list of things he could buy with the extra cash, including shoes, two tanks of fuel and new clothes.

Nearby, Jasmine Brooks, an 18-year-old from Hayward, said some of her old classmates say the cost of attending college keeps them from continuing their education. While $6 might not sound like much, she said, "It's a start. Hopefully, we will get more students to come here."

The budget also includes $159 million in equalization funding to fix disparities in how colleges are reimbursed for the students they serve. That money, however, is contingent on the enactment of a new law that would revise the reimbursement formula. Colleges will not know how much moneythey will receive until the legislation, SB 361, is finalized, most likely in August.

California State University and University of California students also will get a break.

The budget includes $130 million avoid fee increases planned in the fall at the four-year university systems. CSU undergraduates fees will continue to average $3,164 next year, and UC undergraduate fees will average $6,802.

The budget provides $226 million in new revenue for CSU, taking its state general fund revenue to about $2.8 billion, up 7.8 percent, according to a CSU news release. The additional funding includes

$61 million for a 2.5 percent enrollment increase, which translates to about 11,000 more students, and a combined $3.5 million for nursing education and teacher training in mathematics and science.

"The budget the governor signed is good for the students, their families and the CSU," Chancellor Charles Reed said.

UC will receive an additional $234 million from the state, which will edge its state-funded budget to $3 billion, an 8 percent increase, officials said. Additional funding includes $2 million to expand community college transfer programs, and money for a 2.5 percent enrollment growth.

CSU and UC also will receive a combined $26.3 million for academic preparation programs to help disadvantaged students get into college. The governor had proposed eliminating all state general fund support for the programs.

Staff writer Katy Murphy contributed to this report.

Contact Michelle Maitre at mmaitre@angnewspapers.com.

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