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Budget Cuts Impact California Community College Students

Without adequate funding to offer enough classes to students, enrollment in California's community colleges is at a 20-year low.

Since 2007-08, there has been $1.5 billion cut from state funding to community colleges. Fewer instructors has resulted in a 20 percent decrease in the number of courses available, according to a report released Monday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Enrollment of first-time students dropped by 5 percent at the same time the number of high school graduates increased by 9 percent.

The institute's report is based on community college data and survey results from 100 senior administrators in the fall of 2012. Nearly all administrators say they give priority in course enrollment to returning students. So the budget cuts most affected access for recent high school graduates and basic skills students.

In California, the number of for-credit classes at community colleges dropped by 14 percent between 2008 and 2011, while the amount of noncredit classes fell by more than one-third.

An article in the Contra Cost Times describes the challenge of many young students who have been shut out of classes.

The California Legislature, which sets student fees at the colleges, has nearly doubled the fees over the past decade. But the increase in revenue has not made up for the lost state funding, the report notes.

Potential increases in the 2013-14 budget and revenue from the passage of a tax hike in November have some hopeful for the future of country's largest community college system, which has 2.6 million students attending 112 institutions. But the report suggests that to fulfill their multiple missions, community colleges need to find more places to save money and develop new revenue sources.

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