By: Agnessa Kasumyan
With the economic downturn, community colleges across California have suffered due to funding cuts. Glendale Community College (GCC) has already taken difficult measures to continue providing an adequate education for its student population, including cutting the winter session.
The lack of funding has also resulted in many difficulties for students. Traditionally, students at GCC plan to transfer to a four-year university after two years; however, many students are now looking at an additional year of community college due to many classes having been cut. The winter session has already been eliminated from the program, and although the college decided to keep summer courses this year, only around 160 classes in comparison to the 280 classes that are usually available will be offered this summer.
Many students also have difficulty acquiring the classes they need due to the increased enrollment at the college. This is in part due to a surge of the unemployed returning to community college in order to acquire a degree for a better job or train in a different field of work.
“Students are concerned at how they will be able to compete for their classes because enrollment is inversely proportionate to unemployment,” executive Vice President of Administrative Services Ron Nakasone said. “The increased enrollment, however, does help with the budget because we are funded based on enrollment.”
According to Nakasone, the college is undergoing a “hiring free zone,” which means there will be no opportunity for students to work on campus, and managers have agreed to take a five percent pay cut. Furthermore, the college wants to give professors “incentives to retire,” and already have 31 retirees for June.
Nakasone believes that although the college will need several years to recuperate if Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal is approved, it would offer relief for community colleges. The budget proposal includes $12 billion in tax extensions, which would continue increased taxes on incomes, purchases, and vehicles that would protect school funding. If the extensions are passed, GCC alone would lose $3.7 million in funding; however, if voters veto the taxes, the college would face $10.7 million in cuts. In whole, California community colleges would be faced with $800 million cut from their budget.
According to Azadui Kalaydjian, a freshman at GCC, she has had to extend her transfer date to a four-year university because many of the classes she needed to take for nursing were cut from the summer and winter sessions.
“It’s not just me,” Kalaydjian said. “A lot of students are crestfallen that they can’t transfer to their dream schools as soon as they would like, but it’s pushing a lot of us to study harder because we know we have no room to make mistakes.”
UC schools are also facing funding threats if the tax extensions in Brown’s proposal are not approved. Due to an eight percent increase in tuition, undergraduates will have to pay around $11, 100 for their schooling, not including boarding costs. Students also face the possibility of an additional 32% increase in the middle of the year, which would boost tuition to $14,800 a year.
With $6.6 billion having emerged in state revenues, the likelihood of Brown’s budget proposal being passed is slim. Although the revenues will help the state’s budget, half of the money will go to elementary and high schools. UC’s and Cal State’s, however, will not receive any aid aside from tax increases.
Due to such rigid financial conditions, UC president Mark G. Yudof hopes to amplify their financial aid programs to provide more relief for students from middle income families. Students with family incomes of up to $80,000 can receive financial aid through federal taxes in addition to federal and state aid.