Santa Monica College has introduced a new controversial way to help its struggling finances. In what could be a first in the nation, it will offer two-tier course pricing – after regular, $36-per unit classes fill up, in-demand classes will open up at a cost of about $200 per unit.
Student body president Harrison Wills says, "It's creating a two-tiered system of wealthier students who can afford classes and struggling working-class and low-income students competing for the scraps of what's left," according to the Los Angeles Times. Because many Santa Monica College students use the school as a stepping stone to transfer to four-year universities, they need certain classes before they can move on. As is the case for post-secondary institutions across the country, the college has dealt with substantial funding cuts.
This year's funding was down by $11 million, with more cuts anticipated next year. College President Chui L. Tsang defended the decision. "We've had people from the community asking us if we can open up more courses. The alternative is that students can wait and try their luck next semester or go outside to a more expensive private or for-profit college," he told the L.A. Times.
Dr. Chui Tsang, President, Santa Monica College.
Cameron Espinoza, Director of Student Outreach, Associated Students of Santa Monica College
Is this move within the rules for a public community college? Will it bring undue hardship to students? Is there any other way to juice funds for the school?