California’s community colleges were slapped with a $102 million cut in January. This followed a $313 million cut at the start of the school year. While these cuts were devastating, at least they were expected. Now, according to Kathryn Baron, writing for Topics in Education, these same schools face a “February Surprise” of an additional $149 million cut that was not planned and that brings the total cuts to a whopping $564 million this fiscal year.
The “surprise” resulted from two miscalculations: property taxes and student fee revenues were both substantially lower than expected.
The Department of Finance was overly optimistic in its projection of how much revenue could be raised by increasing student fees from $26 per unit to $36 per unit, creating a shortfall of $107 million. Part of the shortfall was due to a large increase in students applying for Board of Governors fee waivers. Considering the dismal state of the economy, one must wonder how they could have overlooked this possibility.
Students, as usual, are the ones getting reamed—this time doubly, with a nearly 40% increase in tuition up front, followed by program cuts and a possible mid-year fee increase to offset the system’s miscalculations and shortfall.