Community college students feel pain of fee increases

Students attending California community colleges in the fall of 2011 are likely to be surprised when they look at the bill for their classes.  Fees have gone up to $36 per unit in effect for fall 2011, college officials said, up from the current $26. For lower income students this could pose an effect on whether or not they attend community college this fall or work.

“I may as well work full time this fall instead of going to school,” says Sacramento City College student Russell Stephens. “It’s just too expensive.”

The fee increase comes at a rough time in the economy where people are doing more saving than spending.

“Unfortunately, I can only attend school part time this fall, because I’m going to be working a part-time job to support myself going to school,” says Sacramento State student Ryan Kliene.

The community colleges aren’t alone in the fee hikes. The fee increase will take place in universities to help support the budget as well.
The  2011-12 plan for the budget approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor, includes cutting an additional $150 million each from the California State University and the University of California – for a total loss to each system of some $650 million.

“With these fee increases, I can only see students going in the opposite direction of college,” says Cheryl Schaeffer, a full-time school teacher in Fremont. “It really could hurt the California education system.”

Last month, UC President Mark Yudof said that “because cuts of this magnitude inevitably will drive up tuition for public university students and their families, we cannot stand silent. While we recognize the enormity of the fiscal challenge facing the state, we continue to oppose further cuts, and support any efforts that will restore long-term stability to state funding of higher education.”

There is no indication when – or even if  – the fees will stop increasing.

“I cannot imagine what students are going to do,” says photography teacher Marie Rubino in Menlo Park. “Students will eventually just stop going to school.”

“I’m really hoping that the fees do not go up any more, or else I will completely quit school,” says Nicole Stith, a student at Saint Mary’s College. “We as students can only handle so much.”

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