What's Wrong with Student Fees? Renewing the Commitment to No-Fee, Open-Access Community Colleges in California

Fall
2004
Topic: 
Students
Committee: 
Educational Policies Committee

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has maintained long-standing support for the no-fee, open-access concept of California's community colleges. This paper documents the history of the introduction of fees and the seemingly inevitable subsequent increases-all of which have been vigorously opposed by the Academic Senate. It makes the case that such fees have betrayed the educational vision of California's 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education-a vision that has served California well. The section on Fundamental Principles provides strong philosophical and practical reasons for the original no-fee concept and argues that it benefits all segments of California by promoting the well-being of the entire state: not just individual citizens, but small and large businesses and the state as a civic and economic institution all benefit immeasurably from community college education. Specific arguments and responses to oppose many of the commonly heard myths and misconceptions in favor of fee increases are included. The paper calls on the Academic Senate to fight for the preservation of California's visionary educational legacy and, more specifically, to press for the roll-back of existing mandatory fees, coupled with enhanced opposition to any further increases. Appendices provide a record of the Academic Senate's resolutions regarding fees and a table that correlates fee increases with the corresponding effect on enrollment.

Recommendations: 

That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommit to its philosophical position of opposition to all mandatory student fees in the California Community Colleges because of their negative impact on access and equity.

That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges sustain its practical position of opposition to all increases in the existing mandatory student fees in the California Community Colleges, and work to reduce and ultimately eliminate existing fees.

That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges continue to advocate for the fundamental role of the California Community College System to provide education to all Californians who can benefit, not limited to those who can be served most easily or at the least cost. That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with other statewide faculty groups to educate state policy makers on the fundamental reasons for its opposition to mandatory student fees and the significant civic and economic benefits to the state of adopting a no-fee policy. That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with local academic senates to educate all faculty on the reasons for the Academic Senate's position on fees and encourage them to communicate this to their local legislators.