California News

Brown OKs bill for pricier classes at 6 community colleges

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gov. Jerry Brown has approved a plan that will allow six community colleges to offer courses between the traditional fall and spring semesters, but students will have to pay more.

Under AB955, signed Thursday, students will be charged the nonresident rate of $200 per unit. That's compared with $46 for state-subsidized credits during traditional semesters.

The six community colleges affected by the bill include: College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, Long Beach City College, Oxnard College, Pasadena City College and Solano Community College in Fairfield.

The bill requires the colleges that elect to participate to use one-third of the money they collect on financial aid for economically disadvantaged students.

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, sponsored the bill. He had hoped to make the higher-fee courses available at all 112 community colleges, but amid opposition, amended it to cover only six that had expressed interest in the concept.

Williams said he crafted the legislation in response to severe bottlenecks that surfaced amid the course reductions that accompanied cutbacks in the college system's funding over the last several years and made it hard for students to obtain the classes they needed to graduate.

The bill saw strong opposition from student leaders and the chancellor of the state's two-year college system. Critics say the bill puts lower income students at a disadvantage.

Brown said the pilot program "seems like a reasonable experiment."

"Why deny these campuses the opportunity to offer students access and financial assistance to courses not otherwise available," he wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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