Sierra College to hike fees again |

Sierra College to hike fees again

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to increase tuition at community colleges, while proposing more money for additional classes, drew puzzled reactions from students at Sierra College’s Nevada County campus.

While some praised the governor’s pledge to increase community college funding in the wake of proposed cuts to both the University of California and California State University systems, others questioned the timing of a per-unit fee hike, so close to one that took effect just last year.

The governor, citing the state’s budget deficit, is proposing a per-unit fee increase from $18 to $26. Per-unit fees for those who have already graduated from a four-year college are proposed to jump from $18 to $50, beginning in the fall.

The news isn’t all bad, however, for community colleges. Schwarzenegger is proposing a 3 percent across-the-board increase to finance the state’s 108 community colleges, in part to encourage potential CSU and UC students to consider attending community college to finish their basic requirements.

Based on the Sierra Community College District’s size and potential for growth, Nevada County Campus Provost Tina Ludutsky-Taylor said, the five-campus district could receive more money.

There are 21,000 students taking at least one class for credit in the Sierra College district, and an additional 20,000 take noncredit classes.

Still, “this will be a financial challenge because we’ve previously had such a large cut in funding,” Ludutsky-Taylor said. “We’ve been under-funded forever, as it relates to the UC and CSU systems.”

The governor’s proposals means Sierra College will have to provide more classes, and possibly more teachers, for students to complete their general-education requirements.

That could be a boon to students looking to start college on the cheap.

“Comparatively speaking, a community college education is still quite reasonable,” Ludutsky-Taylor said.

For the 2004-05 fiscal year, the governor is proposing both a 10 percent hike in the CSU and UC fees, from $2,046 yearly to $2,250. For the University of California, fees are expected to jump from $4,984 to $5,482, according to the Legislative Analyst’s office.

Enrolling more students at the Nevada County campus, Ludutsky-Taylor said, will be difficult without the passage of Measure E, a $380 million bond that will be presented to the voters for approval next month.

There are only 24 classrooms and laboratories on the Nevada County campus, each with a capacity of 25 students. The Nevada County campus has 3,400 students who take at least one class.

Without the bond’s passage, “we won’t have the facilities to accommodate everybody,” she said.

Students at the Nevada County campus straddled both sides of the fence on the governor’s proposals.

“The fees were bound to go up sooner or later,” said student Jean-Pierre Lordier, 17. “We do have to get rid of this debt, but they shouldn’t do it on the backs of the students.”

Lordier, who was home-schooled before beginning at the Nevada County campus this year, said K-12 funding should be examined for government waste before asking college students to foot the bill for the state’s missteps.

Student Danny DeLuca said the fee increase might deter students from pursuing a college degree at all.

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