Tuition Increases to $46 per Unit

Jonathan Caballeros, El Vaquero Staff Writer

Starting this summer, all community colleges in California will see an enrollment fee hike of $10, to $46 per unit, as a method to lower state debts.

“The state college system had a $149 million deficit this year, almost $8 million coming from GCC,” said Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of administrative services, “so the fee hike is mainly to cover the debts acquired.”

“It’s definitely going to put pressure on the students,” said Amir Nour, district accountant and interim controller. “Lower enrollment fees helped out with other such as living and book expenses. It’s going to make it harder to attend school.”

The fee hike will be the second time consecutively enrollment prices, per-unit, will rise, from $26 to $36 in 2011 and $46 for 2012. The cost of  enrollment has increased 43 percent since 2010, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

“It’s all about the state,” said Nour, “the amount the school gets is also set by the state, so even though we’re having a fee hike, we might not see a rise in revenue.”

As enrollment fees rise, so does the share of students being given financial aid, from 28 percent of students in 2008 to 44 percent in 2010, according to the LA Times. Over two-thirds of students are eligible for full coverage by the Board of Governors (BOG) fee waiver, according to the LAO.

Although the BOG is under reform at the moment, about 90 percent of students would qualify for a fee waiver in the 2012-2013 school year, according to LAO.

“Luckily I have [fee waiver], so I don’t have to care so much,” said Cristian Flores, 19, majoring in Computer Engineering, “For others, I really don’t know what to say.”

“I would feel more pressure to get better grades,” said Lorilyn Luong, 20, majoring in Sociology. “If you had a C or D in a class, you’d feel more inclined to get a good grade. I knew I would lose money if I got a bad grade.”

Nakasone and Nour said that the health services fee might rise, but are unsure by how much and when.

If the economy stays this way, then it is likely that [all] fees will increase, said Nour. “If the state can balance their budget, then I don’t see why they would make any more fee hikes.”

“There is one tax initiative that might help with the budget for all schools and colleges in California,” said Nakasone, “one that both Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) both agree on called the Brown/CFT tax initiative.”

The tax initiative would increase income taxes for those who earn more than $250,000 a year, while raising the sales tax a half cent, according to Nakasone and the California Federation of Teachers.

“The tax initiative would help raise $218 million for the state college budget, which the colleges would see by the next fiscal year,” said Nakasone.

Nakasone said that even though the bill is on the ballot this November, the campus budget would still be on a “no-initiative” scale, until the ballot has passed.

“You should see the school running on a mode given the scenario that the bill does not pass,” said Nakasone, “so should the bill fail, we don’t acquire more debt. If it does pass then we’ll see improvements in the fiscal year”

The effects of the state budget cuts have been felt campus-wide — faculty and administration have suffered salary pay cuts, 33 student workers have been laid off, and the price of food has increased on campus.

Nour advises students to become more frugal with their spending.

“At this point [students] still need to enter a ‘saving’ mode,” said Nour, “if you don’t need it, then you shouldn’t buy it.”