California community college to charge more for in-demand classes

Molly Novak

Community college students are constantly in a battle for the classes they need and want, whether it be for credit to get into a four-year university or the need for certain job training skills.

A California community college wants to try a new solution to the problem: raise summer course tuition price so students who really want the courses will pay for it.

Santa Monica College is proposing to raise costs from $36 per credit hour to $180 per credit hour, according to the New York Times.

The college, one of California's largest with 34,000 students, has cut 1,000 courses in the past three years, reported Fox News. Enrollment in California community colleges in general has fallen by 300,000 sudents and some said the difficulty of class registration is an important deterrent.

The plan to raise tuition for in-demand classes like English and math, could be the first of its kind in the United States, college officials and higher education experts said. Other community colleges would be likely to follow if the plan is implemented, they told the New York Times.

Some students said the board's action would relieve the state of having to fund higher education and would privatize programs.

"It's creating a two-tiered system of wealthier students who can afford classes and struggling working-class and low-income students competing for the scraps of what's left; it's definitely a move in the wrong direction," said student government President Harrison Wills to the Los Angeles Times.

California Community Colleges chancellor's office officials said they could move to block the proposed tuition increase. They said they weren't sure that such a change was legal and the program could limit access for students, especially those without the money to pay for more expensive courses.

The tuition hike would only apply to the summer semester and the shorter winter term offered at Santa Monica College.