Community College Tuition Far Too Low

MAY 18, 2011


Across the state, California community college officials and student activists have been holding coordinated protests.  With the usual claimed victim status, they demand higher taxes to subsidize their academic fantasyland.

But these bureaucrats fail to tell the truth.  It’s the California community college STUDENTS (who benefit the most from the education) who should be paying more for their education — they’ve been over-subsidized long enough.

According to a March 2010 national tuition survey sponsored by Washington state, California has the lowest community college tuition and fees in the country.  Even with the increase in per credit tuition from $26 to $36, California community colleges still charge students the lowest tuition — students are paying about a third of the national community college tuition average.

Based on a 15 credit (five course) semester, 2009-10 California community college tuition and fees equaled $780.  Next lowest was New Mexico at $1,125.  Third lowest was North Carolina at $1,684.  National average was $3,029.  The highest state is New Hampshire which charges $6,262.  [see the attached chart from the study]

Adjusting for the new $36 per credit California community college fee increase, we find that CA community college cost rises to $1,080.  Even assuming a zero percent increase in student charges for the rest of the nation’s community colleges — a California community college tuition is still the lowest in the nation. See chart on page 8.

This ridiculously low tuition devalues education to students – resulting in a 30+% drop rate for class completion.  It gets worse.  A full two-thirds of California community college students pay no tuition at all – filling out a simple unverified “hardship” form that exempts them from any tuition payment, or receiving grants and tax credits for their full tuition.

On top of that, California offers thousands of absolutely free adult continuing education classes – a sop to the upper middle class.  In San Diego, over 1,400 classes for everything from baking pastries to ballroom dancing are offered totally taxpayer expense.

It’s time to end this madness. Raise student tuition to at least the national community college average. The last thing this recession-weary state needs is even higher taxes.

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  1. Tylerle13
    Tylerle13 18 May, 2011, 14:53

    They need to raise the fees to a point where people will actually sit down and decide on whether or not they are actually going to commit themselves 100% and do everything possible to graduate.

    Too many people are just using the CC’s to waste time and run in place while they figure out what they want to do with their life, which wouldn’t be a problem if they were paying the way, but when they are doing it on that taxpayer dime, a 70% drop out rate is a major problem. There are many people who are serious about getting an education but Community Colleges are also filled with people who have signed up for Community College because;

    1) Their parents are making them
    2) Their friends are doing it
    3) They went into the workforce right after high school and realized that entry level jobs are hard work with little pay, so they figure they can bypass the hard parts by getting an education.

    The current cost to attend Community Colleges is so low that people do not feel compelled to stick with it when the classes get difficult. If they were paying a few thousand dollars, the decision to drop out and forfeit the tuition they paid would be taken much more seriously than it is now.

    The CC’s should price the Course Credits at the true cost of what it costs the school to operate, make school loans more widely available to cover the increased costs, then if the students earn the Degree or Certificate that they signed up for, their tuition will be retroactively reduced to the subsidized level and they will receive a reimbursement check(or loan credit) for the difference. If the students who graduated continue their education at another California College (UC or CSU), then they will receive a credit within the CSU & UC system for the amount that they paid for their CC Tuition.

    That way the subsidies will be focused on those people that work hard and succeed and there won’t be so much money wasted on babysitting 18 year olds who don’t want to get a job.

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  2. John Seiler
    John Seiler 18 May, 2011, 16:59

    But, Richard, we must bankrupt ourselves “for the children” because “children are our future” and if we don’t brainwash them properly, they might think for themselves — then where would we be?

    Reply this comment
  3. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 19 May, 2011, 14:39

    California’s collegiate education system does indeed provide some valuable graduates who can help an economy improve. Unfortunately our high tax, anti-business climate causes us to lose too many of these expensive graduates to other states.

    Indeed, California is the engine of prosperity — for the other 49 states.

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