The recent decision by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to implement minimum academic requirements in order to maintain a fee waiver is meaningless window-dressing that will likely make little difference in improving the quality of the state’s community colleges.
Obviously college students should be held to a minimum academic standard, and we are. At PCC, if a student falls below a 2.0 GPA for two consecutive terms, that student can be disqualified from continuing.
It would appear then that by the time a student is eligible for fee disqualification, he or she would also be facing expulsion from the school. Therefore, the new policy is enforcing rules that are already being enforced at the school level. Since the state’s higher education system continues to face serious fiscal troubles, implementing redundant policies is an unaffordable luxury.
The officials in charge of enacting this new policy indicate that implementation could be costly.
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office noted in its announcement of the new policy that, “Districts are required to establish appeals processes that students can use to demonstrate extenuating circumstances.”
Schools that have had budgets repeatedly slashed and services cut will now have to implement new procedures to handle appeals? This cannot possibly be a good use of administration resources, and suggests that this decision could cost more to implement and maintain than it saves.
Of course, there are times when drastic actions must be taken to solve public funding problems. If reducing the number of fee waivers made a measureable difference in the funding of California’s community schools, it may be a viable solution. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
A 2012 Public Policy Institute of California report states that student fees are only 6% of total California Community College revenue. The report addresses the issue of fees in detail.
“Even if the Board granted fewer waivers, student fee increases—even at the high rate experienced recently—would not compensate for the sharp decline in CCC revenues,“ the PPIC report read.
We have a new policy that does not save money, saddles administrations with the burden of implementing an appeal process, and enforces a rule that is essentially already being handled by the individual school’s academic standards.
One would hope that the Board could find better uses of its time and energy than coming up with solutions that don’t solve anything.
Bohn, Sarah, et al. “The Impact of Budget Cuts on California’s Community Colleges.” Public Policy Institute of California. March 2013
Press Release, “California Community Colleges Board of Governors Approves Changes to Fee Waiver Provisions.” California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. January 13, 2014
Pasadena City College website, Academic Information. Accessed January 15, 2014