Some California community colleges might soon be allowed to charge more for highly sought after classes during summer and winter intersessions.
A new bill, AB 955, by Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) has passed in the Senate and Assembly. It’s currently waiting Governor Brown’s approval, which could happen anytime before October 13.
Currently, only six community colleges are considered eligible to implement this voluntary program. Of that list, Pasadena City College has opted out, but Long Beach City College hopes to begin the pilot program as soon as possible.
Long Beach City College currently charges residents $46 per unit and non-residents $190 per unit. Under AB 955, summer and winter classes with long wait lists will have non-resident fees. According to the Los Angeles Times, those are typically core classes such as transfer-level English, algebra and history.
Superintendent-President of Long Beach City College, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, says AB 955 is the “only viable alternative” for community colleges to help students graduate or transfer quickly. With a rise in enrollment and a lack of funding, students are not able to obtain necessary classes in a timely manner.
"We've turned away thousands and thousands of students due to state budget cuts, and we have no other mechanism to be able to offer courses to our students," said Oakley on AirTalk. "We've been hopeful that we can convince the legislature and the Governor...to give our students one more choice."
By charging more for intersession classes, community colleges would be able to offer more classes at no cost to the state.
However, many students and faculty oppose AB 955. Chancellor Brice Harris of the California Community Colleges has spoken publicly against it, saying a two-tiered tuition would create two-tiered classes of students those who can afford to pay and those who can’t. Long Beach students have protested the bill and have called on their peers all over California to stop this legislation.
Would tiered tuition help community colleges? Should more community colleges implement this pilot program? Should it be mandatory? Would it create two classes of students? Does it disadvantage low-income students?
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Superintendent-President of Long Beach City College
Vincent Stewart, Vice Chancellor of governmental relations for the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office