Fee hikes are on the horizon for community colleges

Dakota Williams and Dakota Williams

California community college students can all thank Gov. Jerry Brown for saving them from a January fee hike. By signing one bill, he is protecting students attending the system’s 112 community colleges. Sadly, this legislation will only delay the fee hike. A second bill gives active National Guardsmen some good news regarding their classes when forced to leave mid-semester.

Recently, unit prices increased from $26 per unit to $36 per unit. Those without the Board of Governors’ (BOG) Fee Waiver should be getting prepared for yet another price jump in their unit price from $36 to $46. But thanks to Brown, students will have time to prepare for the fee hike.

The original plan was to have this fee increase occur during the spring 2012 semester. The first bill slowed the mid-year fee increase to the summer 2012 semester. California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott noted that without this legislation, colleges would have had to raise fees on very short notice for students who have already enrolled in spring courses.

The second bill signed by Brown was a tuition refund for National Guard members called into active duty.  As long as they are called into active duty during their semester they will be reasonably refunded. Scott said, “During these deployments, students have little time to prepare, and do not have time to take into consideration enrollment withdrawal deadlines.“

Maritza LaVu, the head of the financial aid department at American River College, says the fee increase will not affect the financial aid department. She said, “When the fees go up and down, students who are eligible for the fee waiver are still going to get the fees waived anyway. And as far as other grants are concerned, it doesn’t affect the students who are eligible.” Her only advice to students was to apply for the BOG Fee Waiver. She said, ”Even those students who don’t qualify for grants may qualify for the BOG.”