Budget Cuts Relocating Many CSU, UC Students

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“The promise has been simple: if you work hard and make the grades, we will have a place for you at [UC and CSU campuses],” said Dario Frommer, the California State Assembly Majority Leader whose 43rd District include Glendale. But, he added, “The promise has been broken.”?

Frommer, who once taught political science at GCC, hosted the Higher Education Summit May 11 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Auditorium to explore the potential adverse effects of educational budget cuts and possible solutions to the problems caused by the cuts. Administrators, faculty and students participated in the panel discussion. ?

High school students applying to UC and CSU campuses, including those with GPAs over 4.0, are being randomly deferred to community colleges. These students [about 11,000] have received letters saying that though they are admitted to a four-year college, they must first go to a community college [for free] for the first two years of their college education. ?

A primary concern at GCC, besides the flood of high school students, is how transfer spots will be affected for students who chose to go straight to community colleges rather those who were redirected to them, said GCC President Dr. John Davitt. It will be more difficult for GCC students to transfer into four-year universities in the next couple of years, he said. Students who planned to go to UCLA may have to go farther from home. ?

In addition, when UCs and CSUs are “shoving students to community colleges, it costs more money to educate these students,” said Davitt. Community colleges will receive $36 million for enrollment growth and cost-of-living adjustments [increased 2.41 percent] from the state if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revised budget, which came out May 13, is approved.?

Students who chose to go to community colleges two years ago and are prepared to transfer to UC or CSU campuses received letters saying there is not a spot for them at this time. One such student is Jesse Melgares, representative of administration for ASGCC, who read his letter from a UC campus to the audience. “It’s unfair that so many people are shut out because of the budget situation,” he said.?

This deferment is “unfair for those who enroll at community colleges and transfer down the road,” said Frommer, who is “worried that community colleges will never recover from these attacks, and if they do recover, it would take 10 years.” Deferment may be pushing the problem of educational budget problems back another two years, said Davitt.?

These budget cuts are also harmful to recruiting by eliminating General Fund support for outreach programs in areas known historically not to have many students make the transition from high school to college, said Frommer. The General Fund is a state fund set aside for educational purposes and distributed among the K through 12 levels, community colleges and UC and CSU campuses.?

“CSU is severely impacted by these budget cuts,” said Dr. David S. Spence, CSU’s executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. In the past, CSU’s normally accepted 55,000 community college transfers, in addition to more than 40,000 freshmen and 60,000 to 70,000 graduate students. “CSUs are taking 20,000 fewer students than last year at this time,” said Spence, while the colleges “would normally be increasing enrollment by 20,000.”

For UC and CSU undergraduates, there is a proposed 14 percent increase in tuition and student fees, and average class sizes are increasing. “We’re doing all we can to get students to their baccalaureates degree [and] doing all we can to educate high school students [about going to college],” said Spence, but budget cuts have made this more challenging.?

By redirecting 20,000 students to community colleges, these students, who previously planned to go to UC or CSU universities, may leave to go to out-of-state colleges or private institutions, said Richard Hansen, president of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. This would provide an influx of educated California students entering out-of-state colleges and universities. ?

An additional effect of the deferment is that the demographic makeup for students would be less varied, said Matthew Kaczmarek, chair of the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association. For colleges and universities that are known for cultural diversity, the minorities entering the universities would be reduced due to enrollment cuts.?

Cuts to education affect the economy. “For every $1 that is put into education, $5 goes back to the economy,” said Frommer. “This creates jobs and sustains growth.” ?

“Since 1978, state revenues grew far faster than the state economy and funding was plentiful for education and social concerns,” said Dr. Michael Bazdarich, senior economist of the UCLA Anderson Forecast Center. In the last few years after voters passed Proposition 13, funds have been frozen, said Bazdarich.?

The governor proposed cuts of $374 million for the UC system and $311 million for the CSU system in exchange for restoration of an agreement to provide financing for enrollment growth and to increase for annual funding by 4 percent. ?

At GCC, the budget cuts led to cuts in the library, instruction, maintenance and student activities, said Steven White, vice president of instructional services at GCC. “Last year, there was no choice but to eliminate 30 administrative and faculty positions.” There were also 1 percent cuts in salaries. GCC is committed to serve the community with the resources given, he said.?

GCC had to increase classes in summer by 25 percent to qualify for the growth funds from new state budget plans, but even with this growth, the college may not be able to provide spots for all the new student applicants, said White. Enrollment fees for community colleges are proposed to rise from $18 to $26 per unit, with a $50 per unit “differential” enrollment fee for students with a bachelor’s degree.?

Students should contact Schwarzenegger and tell him this is not the right approach and this is wrong-headed, said Frommer.?

The governor’s revised budget, which still must be approved by the legislature, stated that “state university officials agreed to raise fees and impose 10% caps on freshmen enrollment in Cal State and University of California campuses, but promised to increase funding and enrollment beginning fiscal year 2005-06,” said the Glendale News-Press. Also, the city of Glendale would lose almost $10 million in state revenue for two years.