New State Budget Bumps Fees to $26 Per Unit

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Glendale College students return to school this fall to face homework, early morning classes, exams and fees that have taken another leap. This time from $18 to $26 per unit.

The hike is part of a comprehensive state budget signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on July 31. California community colleges will receive $7 billion under Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum amount of funding for two-year colleges. The amount is adjusted annually for inflation and increases in enrollment.

Along with this money comes a July payment of $213 million, which was withheld until a new budget could be adopted.

Funding for the state’s budget comes from student fees, state income, federal support, lottery money and local property taxes, according to the 2004-05 Governor’s Budget Summary.

“In terms of general operating costs, Glendale College receives $56 million for the 2004-05 year,” said Larry Serot, vice president of administrative services.

The $56 million has already been spent hiring new staff members, including five teachers and one librarian, adding approximately 114 new classes, increased facility costs, restoring a 1 percent cut in pay from 2003, “medical care, which goes up 15 percent a year, and more money for worker’s comp insurance,” said Serot.

Revenue from the fee increase will go to Pell Grant award recipients, who are not being paid in full. Current awards should be $4,040 per student, said Sally L. Stroup, assistant secretary of postsecondary education, according to the Web site
The amount of money one can receive varies depending “on your financial need … costs to attend school … status as a full-time or part-time student and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less,” said Stroup.

Edward Karpp, GCC director of institutional research, reports that 4,965 Glendale College students received this aid in 2003.

This year, enrollment is projected to increase by only 3 percent, said Serot, which is a typical reaction to a fee increase.

Lackluster growth is also attributed to the 5,800 high school graduates who were guaranteed transfer admission to a University of California campus after two years of community college. Instead, UC schools are offering them late admission (in the spring), according to the Los Angeles Times, which estimated that 1,600 will accept admission.
Nevertheless, numbers are soon to rebound. Due to population growth, 700,000 prospective students are expected to seek higher education within the next six years. A recent report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, “Ensuring Access With Quality to California’s Community Colleges,” indicates that two-year colleges will bear most of this burden as a result of limited room at Cal State and UC campuses. Another factor is the low cost of attending a community college compared to a four-year university.

Victor King, president of the GCC Board of Trustees, says the state should be investing in the future, finding ways to prepare for the incoming surge of students. While it will lead to higher operating costs, the incoming tuition will generate more state funds.

“Obviously we feel we should have gotten more money, but we’re pleased to see we’re getting the money we didn’t get before. We’re very grateful,” King said.