A study of California’s community college system released yesterday finds that despite shocking enrollment reductions, budget cuts are making it impossible for hundreds of thousands of students to get into the courses they need to maintain progress toward their degrees.
Community college enrollment has been reduced by 17% in the past four years, but course offerings have been cut by 24%, leaving some 470,000 students on waiting lists as the fall semester gets underway. The system’s budget, which has been cut by $809 million since 2008, will be slashed another $338 million this winter if California voters reject a tax increase referendum in November.
The problems in the state’s community colleges are compounded by the fact that California has cut enrollment at four-year schools in recent years, increasing demand for CC slots:
“We have all of these students who want to take courses — high school graduates, then a whole group who had planned to go to the University of California or Cal State but can’t afford to, and with the economy, all of these people coming back to college because they need skills,” one college’s spokeswoman told the LA Times. But “we’re all being forced by the state to offer fewer courses for students.”
Student support services have been cut to the bone as well, which means that enrollment counseling is harder to come by, along with help in sorting out financial aid problems. One college has completely eliminated tutoring and student visits to four-year colleges, and ended publication of its student handbook, the report says.