Tuition

This section will help you prepare for the costs of attending community college and any future increases. Explore pricing plans, learn where you may be able to attend community college tuition-free, and examine the latest initiatives to make higher education more affordable.
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Community colleges across the country have been faced with serious budget cuts that have forced them to make difficult decisions regarding the best ways to serve their students. In the case of Santa Monica College, a proposal to change the pricing structure of certain classes has been met with both applause and protest. Should community colleges be able to charge different prices for their more popular courses? Santa Monica is dealing with that issue right now.

Program Completion Delayed Due to Insufficient Course Offerings
 
According to a report at FOX News, Santa Monica College has been forced to reduce class offerings over the past three years, due to significant California budget cuts that have left the school, like others around the country, scrambling to find enough resources to adequately meet student need. Unfortunately, the practice of cutting classes has left many students in a serious bind. Students who were poised to complete degree programs or transfer to a four-year university have not been able to get the core classes they need to complete their requirements.
 
“Demand is huge across the board,” Bruce Smith, a spokesman for Santa Monica College, told FOX News. “The question is can we continue to keep cutting and cutting classes. It’s pretty devastating.”
 
Since budget woes began for community colleges in 2008, Santa Monica has been forced to cut 1,100 of its 7,430 classes. This means students are not able to schedule the courses they need to graduate in a timely fashion. In some cases, . . . read more

As the immigration debate rages on, a new aspect of the controversy has come to the forefront: should illegal immigrants  qualify for in-state tuition at state colleges?  A federal law on the books prohibits the practice, but many states have overridden that law to allow those who have grown up in their public schools to move on to higher education after graduation. Others oppose the idea of allowing people who are in the country illegally – and as such, are disqualified from becoming a member of the workforce – to reap benefits not available to legal residents of the country. We will take a look at both sides of the debate, and how some states are deciding to handle the issue of illegal immigration in their own education systems.
 
What the Law Says
 
A federal law passed in 1996 prohibits illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education, according to an article at FinAid. The law reads:
 
"An alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a state for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident."
 
Since the federal law was passed, several states have passed state laws allowing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants residing in those states, if the student has attended high . . . read more

Many high school graduates find an affordable solution to expensive four-year universities by attending community colleges in their area instead. Professionals who require additional training or need to forge a new career path have also found community colleges to be an affordable solution to their career needs.
 
However, community college is becoming a little less affordable in some areas, with the current economic slowdown forcing many schools to hike up tuition rates in an effort to combat rising costs and decreased funding.  
 
In Tucson, Arizona, Pima Community College is considering increases in tuition rates for some of their more popular programs. The school is facing financial shortfalls after having state appropriations cut by more than 30% over the past two years. Roy Flores, the college's chancellor, told Inside Higher Ed, "It looks like we'll have budget cuts for the foreseeable future…As we get squeezed from every corner, I'm concerned about the future of our occupational programs and our ability to respond to people who get laid off and need new skills to get back on their feet."
 
Instead of raising actual tuition rates, Pima is considering a premium charge of 10-30% on popular programs like nursing and avionics. The charge would be phased in slowly, rather than getting assessed in a single expensive bill. Flores does not believe the addition of a premium charge would price many students out of the opportunity to pursue a degree through Pima.
 

With reduced tuition costs, shorter program requirements, and flexible course options, community colleges have provided students across the country with immeasurable benefits. To extend their global reach, some United States community colleges are now offering opportunities for international students to earn tuition-free credits.
 
As VOA News reveals, the US government and participating community colleges have established a program titled “The Community College Initiative.” With this program, the government and community colleges pay the tuition-costs for accepted and qualified international students. In the past two years alone, six countries partook in this program, including Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey. Recently, Cuba, Ghana, and the majority of Central America also joined with their participation.
 
The Community College Initiative Program

Established in 2007, the program started as a small and focused effort to boost international education and opportunities. As VOA News further asserts, “The program provides job training for people who otherwise could not attend college. They learn skills their countries need, like agriculture and health care.” Additionally, vocational educators from around the world are able to take advantage of US professional development training and instruction. With just 84 participants in 2007, the number of current participants is now over 500, as students have the option of attending any of the 37 participating community colleges across the country.
 
With 37 unique locations and programs, the destination for students most significantly depends on each learner's desired academic pathway. Once the school is chosen, international students are able to gain . . . read more

As a response to the weakened economy, workplaces across the country are cutting back on their employees and salaries. While this may come as a devastating and unexpected surprise for many workers, some community colleges view this unfortunate downturn as a potential time for new opportunities.  
 
Some community colleges are providing students with "insurance" against unemployment, while others are outright giving free tuition to students.  While many community colleges have independently been offering residents free or reduced tuition, federal legislation may give unemployed individuals across the nation free access to further education. 
 
Pending Legislation for Greater Support  
 
In light of recent job cuts across the United States, many residents and leaders support plans to offer reduced or free tuition for unemployed citizens. As The Pittsburgh Gazette reports, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senator Bob Casey is one of the many senators and government officials proclaiming that reduced tuition may help foster an improved workforce for the future. Casey hopes to pass legislation that would create an Unemployment Tuition Assistance Program in the Department of Labor, wherein individuals who are receiving unemployment payments will be automatically notified as to whether or not they could also receive tuition assistance. If all goes as planned, the legislation could help reimburse schools a maximum of $1,000 per student. 
 
While this plan sounds optimistic, many experts opposed to the plan argue that there are not enough funds to cover the costs of free tuition. Casey, however, argues that the proposed legislation would force the Labor Department to reimburse colleges that are registered with . . . read more
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