CAPPS - Avocacy and Communication Professional Development

California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Push for Tiered Tuition at California Community Colleges

05/21/2013

INSIDE HIGHER ED. MAY 21, 2013.  The California Assembly on Monday passed a bill that would authorize community colleges to charge out-of-state tuition to in-state residents for some courses during the summer and winter terms, The Sacramento Bee reported. The idea is that some students are able and willing to pay much more for courses at a time that the community college system can't create enough sections to meet student demand. But the concept -- tried and then abandoned last year by Santa Monica College -- angers many who see it as inconsistent with the mission of community colleges to offer quality education for all. The new chancellor of the state's community college system has questioned both the philosophy and legality of two tiered tuition.

Das Williams, author of the bill passed Monday, said that he realized that the legislation wasn't perfect, but he said something needs to be done to create more class sections. "Stakeholders ... want the perfect solution, and I understand why they do. But, holding out for the perfect solution when people are suffering is wrong. The conclusion I came to is it would be a failing on my part ethically to take the easy path," he said.

But Shirley Weber, another Assembly member, spoke against the bill even though she said it would help her son, a community college student. "I would never want him to believe that because mom has a little more money and this is a state-funded institution that I can afford to pay for him to have experiences faster than anyone else at the institution," she said. "For me, it's a fundamental issue of access and what the community college has stood for all these years in California."