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Calif. Allows Community Colleges to Raise Price for Some Classes

Some community colleges in California will now be able to charge more for certain high-demand classes, as the result of legislation signed Thursday by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure has drawn concern from some who worry that it sets a bad precedent of allowing access to public education only to those who are economically privileged. The Faculty Association of California Communtiy Colleges issued a statement expressing disappointment with the new law and the chancellor of the state's community college system has been opposed to the move, suggesting that such a policy was illegal.

The idea of the pilot program, allowed at six of the 112 California community colleges, is to see if students are willing to pay higher fees to take over-enrolled courses offered during the shorter summer or winter intersession terms, instead of being put on a fall or spring wait list.

In a written statement, Gov. Brown, a Democrat, said the program seemed like a "reasonable experiment" to allow. "Why deny these campuses the opportunity to offer students access and financial assistance to courses not otherwise available?" he said.

Typically, California residents pay just $46 per unit (a course being three units), with the rest subsidized by the state. Under the new law, the pilot campuses could charge the nonresident rate, which is up to $200 per unit, for the courses.

There has been talk elsewhere of creating a two-tiered tuition system, but California is the only state to adopt such a law, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

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