California Community Colleges Hit Hard By Budget Cuts, Funding Delays
Teachers and students across the country will participate in the national walk-out/teach-in day Thursday, protesting recent education budget problems.
California is still facing a massive budget crisis, which has lead to increasing cuts in education funding, and students attending community colleges throughout the state are facing various obstacles.
Community Colleges will be struggling throughout the year without the $840 million they are supposed to receive for daily operating funds. Some colleges are facing the threat of not being able to make payroll and cover many other basic operating expenses, as reported by the Chancellors Office of the California Community Colleges Association.
The state has already missed payments to the system, including $116 million in July and about $277 million in August. On September 28th, the state budget impasse forced the third straight monthly deferral of payments to California Community Colleges for the 2010-2011 school year.
In total, $840 million in state funds have been delayed. This delay has pushed California Community Colleges to borrow more than $5 million.
The state budget has also ceased Cal Grant payments to many community college students. Throughout the state, roughly 60 percent of students did not receive their grants this fall semester. Students use those grants to pay for school fees and other expenses including transportation, textbooks, childcare and housing.
Some students are also ineligible for federal aid, increasing the financial burden.
“Not having a social security number or any other way of “identifying” yourself to the government, I wasn’t able to obtain the funds," said Maks Bugrov, a second year student at East Los Angeles Community College. "I’ve been working since I was 12 through my tax identification number, a self-employer – paying taxes – and yet, I’m not qualified to get some financial aid."
Along with the tight financial aid, many students are upset over the lack of available classes because of the increased layoffs of professors.
“The campus is overcrowded," said Leslie Estrada, a third year student at Santa Monica College. "Classes are completely full. Many students, including myself, aren’t able to get classes they need or want. There are less classes because of the lack of instructors. This has to change."
Fees have increased significantly at schools throughout California, so some people are choosing to go to a community college, rather than a four year university.
”The tuition increase at four years has led students to choose a community college in order to save money to one day hopefully transfer to a university. Now with the budget cuts, every class is filled,” Estrada said.
Even though the increase is not as significant, students have seen higher tuition at community colleges, too.
“It used to be $18 per unit, now it is $22 here at Santa Monica,” Estrada said. Bugrov said the per unit price at ELAC had increased $6.
Community colleges across the state are trying to find a solution and spread the money they do receive in a proper manner.
“I sat in on a Shared Governance meeting on Monday and things were being discussed through and through to make sure that there wasn’t anything overlooked, however, there is still a lot of delegating to a lot of subcommittees to make sure that the money is being spent correctly,” said Ramon Borunda, college guidance career assistant/activities coordinator at Los Angeles City College.
This coming Thursday, October 7th, students and faculty across the state will protest the budget cuts.
“Will I be participating? I think so. My students lack so many resources and opportunities because of the money that’s missing,” Borduna said.
With the upcoming gubernatorial elections in November, students and school workers want the knew governor to help the education system.
“I want the new governor to help education; help students financially and to find new solutions for students with low income ... Arnold didn’t do anything, so I expect our new governor to help education to the fullest,” Estrada said.
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