Glossary of Terms

Commonly Used Acronyms

Revised November 2022

Nothing makes one feel so much an outsider in a group as the use by others of acronyms or initial designations with which one is not familiar. Below are some of the abbreviations pertaining to the educational systems that are in common use in this state. This list, which is not exhaustive, is meant to give information on the most frequently used acronyms. Please send suggestions or further additions to this list to the ASCCC Office via info [at]

Link to Acronyms List - Updated November 2022

Glossary of Terms 

AB 1725

Comprehensive California community college reform legislation passed in 1988, that covers community college mission, governance, finance, employment, accountability, staff diversity and staff development.

Academic Employees

Those persons who are employed in positions for which the Board of Governors has established Minimum Qualifications. The term generally includes faculty (including librarians and counselors) and academic administrators.

Academic Year

Period of time schools use to measure a quantity of study. Academic year can vary from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school, but generally refers to July 1 through June 30.


The review of the quality of higher education institutions and programs by an association comprised of institutional representatives. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits California's community colleges.

Affirmative Action

The practice of actively promoting the recruitment of students and hiring of staff in order to reflect the diversity of population in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and disabilities. Proposition 209 and subsequent court cases prohibited affirmative action in public institutions to the extent that it involves granting preferences based on race or gender.


The division or distribution of resources according to a formula or plan.


The method by which the system office distributes federal, state and local monies to community college districts according to specified formulas.


The process of developing a formal, written agreement that identifies courses (or sequences of courses) on a "sending" campus that are comparable to, or acceptable in lieu of, specific course requirements at a "receiving" campus.

Bagley-Keene Act

State law that establishes notice and open meeting requirements for state bodies, including the Board of Governors.


A foundation to which comparisons are made when projecting a current condition; also refers to ongoing funding to which additions or subtractions are made in the annual budget.

Basic Aid District

A community college or K-12 district that does not receive state funds because its revenues from local property taxes provide more than it would receive under state formulas.

Basic Skills

Courses in reading, writing, computation, and English as a Second Language that prepare students for college-level work. Also called remedial or developmental courses.

Block Grant

The provision of funds for distinct purposes in a single allocation that allows local discretion in spending among those purposes.

Board of Governors Enrollment Fee Waiver

A state-funded program that waives enrollment fees for California residents if they are (a) recipients of CalWORKs, SSI or General Assistance benefits; (b) are in low-income households based on income and family size; or (c) have financial need according to federal standards for student financial aid. Students who qualify for the BOGFW are also entitled to discounted parking fees and a waiver of any health services fees charged by a district.

Budget Change Proposal

A request developed by a state agency and provided to the Department of Finance to request changes in the amount of money the state provides for any purpose.

California Articulation Number

A course identification system that facilitates the identification of lower-division, transferable major preparation courses taught at one CCC or CSU campus, as comparable to similar courses taught at another.


An enrollment limit beyond which districts do not receive funds for additional students.

Categorical Programs/Categorical Funds

Provided in the law and budget for specific uses. Examples of categorical programs are Deferred Maintenance, Part-time Faculty Office Hours, EOPS and DSP&S.


A California Community Colleges website (,) that supports a common online admissions application accepted by most colleges in the system. It also provides information about campus programs and services and is the primary student portal to the system for those who do not enter through a specific college.

CCC Confer

A systemwide audio and e-conferencing system that allows communication and collaboration for all staff, faculty and administrators in the California Community College system via telephone and the Internet.

CDS Code

A series of numbers assigned to a California community college and utilized as a database to track, sort, and identify community college campuses.

Census Week

A week during each semester used to count enrollment for funding purposes.


An off-campus site administered by a parent college that offers programs leading to certificates or degrees that are conferred by the parent institution.


Prior to AB 1725, referred to personnel (faculty, administrators, supervisors, nurses, librarians, etc.) who, by law, had to have a credential to perform their duty. Certification has been superseded by the designation of Minimum Qualifications for academic employees.

Certificates of Completion or Achievement

For students completing credit courses in prescribed pathways, a certificate of achievement may be awarded for Chancellor's Office approved programs of study of 18 or more units.  "Low unit" certificates may also be offered by a college and awarded as certificates of achievement when the program of study consists of 12-18 units and is approved by the Chancellor's Office.  Certificates of achievement may be awarded for completion of CSU -Breadth General Education or Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC).

Typically, certificates of achievement are developed in the career technical education (CTE) areas.  Some certificates also lead to associate degrees in the same field.  Colleges may not award a certificate of achievement for basic skills or English as Second Language (ESL) coursework.

Certificates of Participation

Used to finance the lease/purchase of capital projects. Essentially, they are the issuance of shares in the lease for a specified term.

Chief Executive Officer

A term used to describe a multi-campus district chancellor, the superintendent/president of a single-campus district, or the president of a college in a multi-college district.

Classified Staff

Employees of a district not in academic positions, including secretarial staff, computer and program technicians, instructional aides, accountants and maintenance personnel.

Common Course Numbering

A numbering system to identify comparable courses at multiple institutions. 

Community Service (Extension Courses)

One of the missions of the community colleges; the Ed Code authorizes colleges to offer not-for-credit classes and events of interest to the community. Fees paid by students must support the full cost of such classes.

Competitive Cal Grant

A limited number of Cal Grants to help pay college expenses, available on a competitive basis to students who are not recent high school graduates or otherwise don't qualify for an Entitlement Cal Grant.

Conference Committee

A legislative committee that settles differences between Assembly and Senate versions of bills, or House and Senate bills in the federal arena.


The mechanism for systemwide shared governance through which the Chancellor confers on policy issues with institutional and interest group representatives prior to making his recommendations to the Board of Governors. The Consultation Council consists of representatives of the Chief Executive Officers, Chief Business Officers, Chief Human Resources Officers, Chief Instructional Officers, Chief Student Services Officers, Academic Senate, Student Senate, California Student Association of Community Colleges, faculty and classified unions, and Trustees.

Contract Education

Courses or programs that provide customized training on a fee- for-service basis for businesses and government agencies.

Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education

A state-funded program that provides EOPS students who are welfare-dependent single heads of household with supplemental educational support, such as specialized counseling and advisement, peer support, grants and allowances for child care, transportation, textbooks and school supplies, tutoring, and other services.

Data Mart

A database program maintained on the Chancellor's Office website ( that enables external users to query student and staff MIS data and generate aggregated reports by college, district or statewide.

Department of Finance

A state agency that represents the Governor's office in shaping budgetary priorities and controlling state spending.

Developmental Education

Courses and programs that are below college level, designed to prepare students for college level work. Also called basic skills or remedial education.

Disabled Students Programs and Services

A state-funded categorical program that provides funds for the additional costs related to supporting students with disabilities in community colleges.


Curricular subject matter areas designated by the Board of Governors (relying on the work of the Academic Senate), and used in establishing Minimum Qualifications for faculty.

Distance Education/Distance Learning

Classes and other educational services offered via television, the Internet, or other technological means of teaching at a distance.

Donahoe Higher Education Act

Established the Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960, delineating the roles of the CCC, CSU, and UC segments.

Dual Admissions

A program where an applicant to a four-year institution of higher education is guaranteed admission in a future academic year upon completion of specified courses and requirements at a community college.

Early College High School

A program, funded by a $9 million grant from the Gates Foundation to the Foundation for California Community Colleges to support the creation of small high schools that provide students the opportunity to finish 4 years of high school and the equivalent of 2 years of college during a 4-5 year period.

Economic and Workforce Development Program

A California Community College program that supports regional centers and systemwide initiatives to address current and emerging workforce development needs. It links colleges and employers so that training programs are up to current industry standards, students have immediate employment options upon graduation, and business innovation and development is supported.

Educational Employment Relations Act

Regulates collective bargaining for K-12 and community college districts. Also called the Rodda Act.

Educational Research Information Center

A federally funded repository for information about a variety of higher education issues, including, community colleges.

Education Code

The body of California law governing elementary, secondary and postsecondary education in California. Implementing regulations are contained in Title 5 of the California Administrative Code.

Enrollment Fee

The fee charged by districts pursuant to Ed. Code section 76300 per credit unit of enrollment. The enrollment fee for 2003-04 is $18 per unit.

Enrollment Management

The term used to describe processes related to setting priorities for student enrollment.

Entitlement Cal Grant

A grant to help pay educational expenses available to all California resident high school graduates who apply in their senior year and meet income and GPA requirements.


State funds provided to address the historic disparity in funding per FTE student among community college districts.

Extended Opportunity Programs and Services

A state-funded program to support the enrollment of disadvantaged students through services including counseling and advisement, tutoring, peer support, books and financial aid.

Faculty and Staff Development Fund

State funds allocated to districts to support professional development for faculty, administrators and staff.

Field Act

A law that defines earthquake standards for school and community college facilities.

Fifty-Percent Law

Requires at least 50 percent of each district's current expense of education to be spent on the salaries of classroom instructors and instructional aids.

Fiscal Data Abstract

Annual Chancellor's Office publication of budget and enrollment statistics for each district.

Fiscal Year

In California, it is the period beginning July 1 and ending June 30. Federally-funded programs use a fiscal year beginning October 1 and ending September 30.

Flexible Calendar

Colleges may designate up to 10 instructional days per year for professional development. "Flex" activities are designed for faculty and staff development.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The uniform application for federal, Cal Grant and campus-based financial aid.

Full-Time Equivalent Faculty

The total number of full- and part-time faculty counted in terms of full teaching loads, not headcount.

Full-Time Equivalent Students

Replaced ADA as the community college workload measure for instruction and instructional services. A "full-time student" is defined as one who is enrolled in 12 or more units. FTES is determined by dividing 12 into the total number of units in which all students are enrolled.

Full-Time Faculty

Includes regular (those who have tenure) and contract (those hired on a year to year basis, prior to achieving tenure) faculty who are hired as full-time employees.

Full-Time Faculty Obligation

The number of full-time faculty a district is required to hire or maintain under Education Code requirements aimed at achieving the goal that 75 percent of the hours of credit instruction provided by each college be taught by full-time faculty.

Fund for Instructional Improvement

A competitive grant program administered by the system office that focuses on innovative curriculum and faculty and staff development projects. The program is not currently funded.

Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education

A federal competitive grant program that supports innovative programs in higher education.

Fund for Student Success

A competitive grant program administered by the system office that originally focused on innovative models of service and learning delivery. Limited funds currently support MESA and Middle College High School grants to selected colleges and the system's contribution to administration of the Puente program.

General Education

A required pattern of courses covering a breadth of subjects thought to be useful for all college students regardless of major.


Provisions that protect existing programs or program participants from being affected by changes in regulation, law or policy.


Funds provided in the state budget to support the enrollment of additional FTE students.

Headcount Enrollment

The actual number of students enrolled.

Hold Harmless

Any mechanism that assures that no district will receive fewer funds under a new funding system than under a prior one.

Independent College

A non-public institution of higher education.

Instructional Services

Services that support the teaching-learning process, such as libraries and media centers.

Interjurisdictional Exchange

A type of contract that allows the Chancellor's Office to temporarily hire an employee from a local community college district to work in the Chancellor's Office or conversely to allow a Chancellor's Office employee to work at a district.

Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum

A set of courses meeting lower division general education requirements for CSU, UC and the community colleges.

Intersegmental Major Program Articulated Curriculum

A joint effort of the UC, CSU and CCC Academic Senates to define common lower division coursework in college majors.

Lease Revenue Bonds

Bonds secured by a lease agreement and rental payments. Community colleges use lease revenue bonds to finance construction or purchase facilities.

Management Information System

Refers to computer-based systems that manage student, fiscal and other information. The CCC MIS database is comprised of unit record student and staff data from all colleges in the system.

Mandated Costs

College district expenditures that occur as a result of federal or state law, court decisions, administrative regulations or initiative measures.

Master Plan for Higher Education

State policy on priorities within higher education and the missions of the CCC, CSU and UC systems. Originally enacted by the Donahoe Higher Education Act in 1960.

Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement

A state-funded grant program administered by UC to encourage educationally disadvantaged students to seek careers in math, science and engineering.


A state-funded categorical program and campus process that includes admission, orientation, assessment, counseling, follow-up, and evaluative services to help students define and attain their educational goals.

May Revise

The Governor's revision of his January budget proposal based on up-to-date projections of revenues and expenses.

Middle College High School

Collaborative high school/community college programs that enable high potential, "at-risk" students to complete their high school education while concurrently receiving direct access to college courses and services.

Minimum Qualifications

Statewide standards adopted by the Board of Governors (relying on the Academic Senate) that faculty must have in order to be hired. They are discipline based.

Noncredit Education

Courses for adults that may include basic skills, English as a second language, short-term vocational programs, parenting, health and safety, home economics, and specialized courses for immigrants and older adults.

Object Codes

Chancellor's Office budget codes to identify types of expenditures, such as salary, supplies, and capital outlay.

Occupational Education

Refers to business, technical and allied health programs in the colleges. Also referred to as Vocational Education.

Office of the Secretary for Education

A cabinet-level appointment of the Governor charged with providing policy input on pre-Kindergarten through University issues.

One-Stop Centers

Centers that provide comprehensive services related to job training and employment; may involve partnerships with Employment Development Department and other workforce related agencies in addition to community colleges.


Refers to classes taught by faculty that are over the standard full-time faculty workload and compensated as such.

Partnership for Excellence

A program wherein the system received additional state funds in return for a commitment to improve student outcomes in six areas.

Part-time Faculty

Faculty who teach less than 60 percent of a full workload.

Pell Grant

A federal financial aid program that provides funds to low-income students to help pay their educational expenses.

Perkins Act

The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which provides funds to states to support secondary and postsecondary career and technical education.

Phi Theta Kappa

The honors society for community college students.

Positive Attendance

Alternative to census week counts, positive attendance counts the actual number of persons present in class each day.

Program and Course Approval

A process whereby colleges submit new programs and courses that they have locally approved through their curriculum committee for required Chancellor's Office (and CPEC) approval.

Program-Based Funding

The formula used to allocate community college general funds according to standards in five areas: instruction, instructional services and libraries, student services, maintenance and operations, and institutional support.

Property Tax Backfill

A mechanism to make district budgets whole if property tax revenues fall short of projected revenues for a given year.

Proposition 98

Constitutional provisions that set minimum funding levels as a share of total state revenues for K-12 schools and community colleges.

Proprietary School

A non-public, for-profit, educational entity.

Public Employees Retirement System

One of two major statewide retirement programs. Academic employees generally belong to the State Teachers Retirement System, while administrators, classified and state employees belong to PERS.

Public Employment Relations Board

"Court of appeal" for collective bargaining conflicts.

Puente Project

A state-funded program administered by UC for high schools and colleges that provides mentoring and counseling to increase college enrollment and transfer rates for disadvantaged students.

Request for Applications

Used by the Chancellor's Office to solicit applications for grants.

Request for Proposal

Announces the availability of contract funds; outlines the process for application and selection. State agencies and districts utilize the RFP process to select vendors for equipment, services, etc.

Revenue Limit

The specific amount of student enrollment fees and state and local taxes a college district may receive per student for its general education budget. Annual increases are determined by a Proposition 98 formula or the Legislature.

Rodda Act

The Act that established collective bargaining for K-12 schools and community colleges. Also called the EERA.

RP Group

Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges; the professional association for community college institutional researchers.

Scheduled Maintenance

State matching funds provided for major repairs of buildings and equipment.

Service Learning

A policy and programs that advocate community service as an integrated component of a student's education.

Seventy-five/twenty-five (75/25)

Refers to policy enacted as part of AB 1725 that sets 75 percent of the hours of credit instruction as a goal for classes to be taught by full-time faculty.

Shared Governance

The practice of involving faculty, staff, administrators, and students in policy discussions at the local and state levels.


An insufficient allocation of money, requiring an additional appropriation, expenditure reduction, or producing deficits.

Small College Factor

A factor in funding formulas that recognizes the disproportionately higher per-student costs of operation for small colleges.

Special Admits

High school students who are able to attend community colleges for advanced scholastic course work with parental and principal permission.

Standing Orders

Directives from the Board of Governors that focus on aspects of systemwide administration that the Board has elected to delegate to the Chancellor or other parties, under the authority of Education Code Section 71090(b).

State Mandates

Activities required by state legislation.

State Teachers Retirement System

A retirement system utilized by K-12 and community college faculty.

Student Senate

An organization that provides policy input to the Consultation Council on behalf of community college students.


A fixed date by which a program, unless reauthorized, will terminate.

Taxonomy of Programs Codes

Used by the Chancellor's Office to code teaching disciplines and other program areas.

Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes

A cash management tool used by districts to borrow money in anticipation of receiving state and local tax revenues.

Teacher and Reading Development Partnerships

A state-funded program to encourage community college students to pursue a career in teaching through development of partnerships with local K-12 districts and CSU campuses. Not currently funded.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families

The federal welfare program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children; known in California as CalWORKS.


Employment protection provided to established faculty to allow academic freedom.

Tidal Wave II

Refers to the large number of students graduating from high school and projected to enter college between 1995 and 2005.

Title 5

The portion of the California Code of Regulations containing regulations adopted by the Board of Governors which are applicable to community college districts.

Trailer Legislation or Trailer Bill

Legislation that follows other adopted legislation to clean up or correct technical issues. Also refers to legislation implementing provisions of the Budget Act.

Transfer Admission Agreement

An agreement between a four-year institution and a community college student that guarantees he/she will be accepted as a transfer student to that institution if certain conditions are met. May also be called a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG).

Unduplicated Annual Headcount Enrollment

Represents the number of distinct individuals who have enrolled in any community college course or program during a specified twelve-month period. A student who was enrolled full-time in the fall and spring terms and a student who took a single .5 unit course are each counted once.

Vocational and Technical Education Act

The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which provides funds to states to support secondary and postsecondary career and technical education.

Weekly Student Contact Hours

A measure of the hours noncredit students are in classes, including lecture, laboratory and other modes of instruction.

Workforce Development

Programs designed to anticipate emerging industry needs in order to prepare students for real jobs when they leave college.

Workforce Investment Act

Federal legislation to support workforce training.

Work Study

A type of financial aid program that provides money for students in return for working at the college or in off-campus placements made by the college.