Community colleges in crisis
In recent years, an increasing and substantial number of cuts to state funding have affected those enrolling at California community colleges, including Biola students.
Due to these cuts, the nation’s largest system of public higher education has had a growing number of classes cut, furlough days implemented, tuition increases and faculty layoffs.
A growing number of students at Biola are transferring from other schools, including public community colleges. The number of transfer students at Biola has increased from 254 to 353 since 2006, according to Donald Gordon, assistant director of undergraduate admissions.
“My theory [for the increase in transfer students] is that if the students are forward thinkers and look at our graduation and retention rates compared to the public schools, they will want to transfer here,” Gordon said.
Where students take summer classes
Many Biola students take classes during summer to save money, according to Gordon. He also said that some prospective students who are not able to initially get into Biola are often advised to go to a community college for a year to bring up their grades.
In the past, students could knock out 24 units in one year at community colleges, according to Gordon.
“If you’re behind coming out of high school, though, not being able to get classes at a community college could make it worse,” he said.
Funding for California community colleges has been cut by a total of $809 million — 12 percent of the overall budget — since the 2008-2009 school year, which was the year the size of the system peaked with 2.9 million students enrolled, according to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office website.
Since the 2009-2010 academic year, per-unit fees for California community colleges on all 112 campuses have gone from $26 to $46, which is an average increase of $600 per year per student.
Fate hinges on Proposition 30
The system could potentially face an additional $338 million in cuts in January 2013, if Proposition 30 passes in the November election, according to the Chancellor’s Office. Proposition 30 would raise sales taxes and income taxes in California from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent. It is designed to fund schools and ensure public safety, according to the Proposition’s official website.
“I know [the school] is waiting for the election to decide what they are going to do in the future,” said Melissa Hunt, executive assistant to the vice president of Fullerton College. “If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass, they will have to reevaluate how to allocate the budget for upcoming years.”
With increasing tuition at California State Universities and the schools in the University of California system, more of their students are taking classes at community colleges during the summer or in conjunction with their university classes to save money, according to Gordon.
"Although this method may help students at universities save money and graduate faster, it is causing even more overcrowding on campuses that are already having problems with classes filling up too quickly," said junior art major Shaunna Huynh.
Huynh is a transfer student from Saddleback College. While she was there, she worked in the admissions department of her school and saw the effects the cuts had on classes.
“Registration times occur over a period of one month and, generally, the classes are full within the first three days,” she said. “New students get lower priority and usually have trouble getting the classes they need.”
The results from the November election will be a large factor on how the budget will look in upcoming years for the community college system. If Proposition 30 passes, funding for community colleges will increase by $210 million.