You get what you pay for, right?
Until now, that saying has never applied to college courses.
Generally, you pay tuition, and every course is equal in the eyes of the dean. (Well, except for the extra half-credit you get for lab hours!)
But The New York Times reports that due to decreased enrollment numbers and a reduced budget from the state, California school Santa Monica College (considered one of the most successful community colleges in the country) is raising prices on select summer courses.
Wait, how does that work?
The rationale behind it is that the decreased enrollment comes in part from students unable to reserve a space in popular classes—those needed to graduate or for job training--leaving the school in frustration. By raising the price for these in-demand courses, the school both allows students particularly anxious for a class to pay to cut the line and enroll, and increases money coming to the school in a time when their budget needs the influx.
Unsurprisingly, the move is angering students who think that the two-tier tuition system will hinder lower-income students, some of the very people community colleges aim to benefit. Since it is a community college, the state can block this practice, but has not yet done so.
But the changes in pricing are done with the best of intentions. Along with the budget cuts, California schools have experienced a peak in registration, but are unable to meet the demand. From the Times:
“Every year we look around and think about how we can serve more students, but what we have now is not working,” said Chui L. Tsang, the president of Santa Monica College. “Literally thousands of students are missing out on opportunities we want to give them and have the ability to give them if we just had the money.”
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