H-CENTRAL COAST

Mar 31, 2011 9:27 PM by Ariel Wesler

State budget woes force community colleges to slash student enrollment

Going to school at a community college is about to get a lot tougher. California's community colleges will likely slash enrollment this fall by 400,000 students. This comes after budget talks broke down between Governor Brown and state lawmakers.

Allan Hancock and Cuesta College plan to cut at least a couple hundred classes and reduce enrollment by about a thousand students. Decisions that will come with devastating impacts.

The competition for classes at our local community colleges is getting tougher than ever before. Students say state lawmakers need to make education a top priority.

"They should be encouraging us to go to school and study and become something, right? But they're lowering our chances," said Wendy Garcia, a Hancock College student.

"How are you going to have a campus without students?" Student Phil Garcia asked.

Dona Hinchliff is a college counselor at Pioneer Valley High School. She says all these cuts will require a good deal of planning and patience.

"It's harder to get into the four-year university, so the students are flooding into the community colleges, and now we've got the issue with the community colleges too," said Hinchliff.

The more units you have taken at the college, the earlier you can register for those coveted classes. The budget cuts will likely hit incoming students the hardest. For example, most of the seniors at Pioneer Valley High School will be headed to community colleges like Allan Hancock, and it could be their toughest challenge yet.

"They're cutting it by that much, I'm wondering if I will be able to get in," said Giselle Medina, who wants to transfer to a university after two years. "That would really set me back."

However, Hinchliff says this should not discourage students from pursuing their college dreams.

"It's going to be another hoop that they have to go through, but students who are serious about their education, they're going to make it work," Hinchliff said.

This fall, tuition fees are already set to rise from $26 to $36 per unit under the proposed budget, but they could go even higher if state lawmakers do not reach a budget compromise.
Administrators say if you want to get a jump start on getting some class credits before the fall, sign up for summer school.

Nearly three million students attend California's community colleges.

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