Community college is an economical route for undergraduates because of its cost-efficiency when compared to university tuition fees.
Come summer registration however, students will find access to these institutions more limited than ever.
As part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget to curtail California’s projected $27 billion deficit, community colleges statewide are facing decisions of how to brace for a $400 million cut to two-year higher education funding for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
According to Richard Dittbenner, director of public information and government relations for San Diego Community College District, there will be cuts of approximately 90 percent of the 1,100 classes offered in the summer to help bridge an anticipated budget reduction of $10.3 million.
Similarly, the other four community college districts in San Diego County — Grossmont-Cuyamaca, Southwestern, Palomar and MiraCosta — are also planning cuts to their summer courses. Imperial Valley College has canceled its program altogether.
“There’s going to be competition for everybody to get the limited classes that will still be available,” communications specialist at Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Anne Krueger said. “We have only 6,000 seats available for summer with an anticipated 50,000 students attempting to fill them.”
With more than 780 class sections, including 50 percent of the summer program, being cut during the next academic year to close an $8.1 million budget deficit, Krueger said, the reality is students may not get the classes they need and it will take longer to graduate or transfer.
These challenges have been more prevalent in recent years, so it is possible that for some scholars, concurrent enrollment in multiple institutions is already necessary to ensure a full-time course load, she said.
For lower-division students such as San Diego State pre-nursing freshman Carldee Soriano, not being able to take classes at his local community college means summer school might not be an option anymore.
Undergraduate tuition for a California resident taking three units during the summer term at SDSU is $1,151, as listed on the Student Account Services website. At $26 per unit, a similar three-unit course at a community college would cost $78.
“Tuition is expensive and the financial aid I receive is not enough to cover (summer school at SDSU),” Soriano said. “This really affects a lot of students because it ultimately hinders our ability to stay on track with our coursework.”
What is important at this time of doing more with fewer resources is minimizing the impact of cuts on students, Southwestern’s Chief Communications Officer Chris Bender said. Though the administration has not made any final decisions yet at SWC, the summer offerings will focus on two components: basic skills courses and classes students are required to take for graduation.
Because the legislature has a constitutionally granted 45 days to pass the budget, the final outcome of higher education funding is still unclear, Bender said, which means the cuts could potentially become much worse. More will be known in mid-May when Brown releases his May Revise.
With the proposed budget, the California State University and University of California systems are facing a combined $1 billion cut for next year.