Learning has never been so cheap at Mesa

Shayla Durrett

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Mesa students get break in tuition costs.

A reduction of enrollment fees from $26 per unit to $20 per unit will be implemented in January, for all California Community Colleges.

The cost reduction will include any term or intersession beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2007.

“I fully expect that the reduction in fees will be beneficial for Mesa students and for community college students statewide,” said Mesa President Rita Cepeda. “Past history tells us that every time an adjustment is made to student enrollment fees the response is immediate. Unfortunately, in the past the only changes to student fees have been in the form of increases, not decreases; thus this is both a great opportunity and historic one.”

Assembly Bill 1802 originally intended to have the fee reduction take place in the spring term of 2007. However, since many colleges have intersessions starting in January, it would be confusing for intersession to cost $26 per unit and the spring classes cost $20 per unit.

The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges resolved that any term or intersession beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2007, would cost $20 per semester unit and $13 per quarter unit.

The reduction in student fees is expected to increase student enrollment. The tuition in California Community Colleges remains the lowest price nationwide, as they offer a chance for students who can’t afford UC and CSU schools.

“The new cost will make less stress for people who have to work hard to go to college to make something of themselves,” said Mesa student Kandise Thompson.

According to Cepeda, the fee reduction is part of an effort to receive more support from California for Community Colleges. One factor allowing the drop in fees is the optimistic outlook on the financial picture of California.

“What we need is policy that does not change fees as a result of a changed financial picture but rather something that is moderate and predictable so students can plan for the future,” said Cepeda.

The fee reduction may not be permanent. According to Linda Michalowski, Vice Chancellor for Student Services and Special Programs for California Community Colleges, the Board of Governors for California have a policy that states that fees should be low and fee increases should be gradual and predictable. However, it is the legislature and governor who control our fees, not the Board of Governors.

Cepeda said that students have a chance to ensure that the fees stay low by using the elected Student Body Government officials and the Student State Senate representatives.

“Students should take every opportunity . to make their voices heard about the benefits of the fee reduction and the need for future fee policies that sustain affordability,” said Cepeda.
The Legislature provided $40 million of state funds in the 2006-07 Budget Act in order to compensate for the revenue loss that will occur as a result of the fee reduction.

“I think its greatest value is the message it sends to the people of California that the State values access to community colleges for its population and is willing to invest State revenues in order to keep the cost low,” said Michalowski.

According to the financial aid office at City College, the bill will also affect students who receive aid from Pell Grants. In the Fall 2006 semester, the maximum Pell Grant awarded was $2,025, but based on the fee reduction the maximum Pell Grant award for the Spring 2007 semester will be $1,969.

The fee change will allow the colleges the appropriate time to adjust registration information.

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