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Price drop for college courses

William Ferchland

In what is good news to the enrollment-struggling school, tuition is expected to drop at Lake Tahoe Community College in the upcoming months thanks to the California state budget.

Fees are anticipated to drop at all California community colleges on the semester system by spring from $26 to $20 per unit. Officials at the Lake Tahoe campus, which is on a quarter system and thus has a different fee structure, are wondering whether the $17 per unit price will drop to $13 for the winter or spring quarter.

No matter when the price will drop, the news could open the gates for students previously priced out of taking classes. Officials noted how past fee increases from $7 to $12 to $17, starting in the 2003-’04 school year with another hike in the following year, priced-out certain students and contributed to an enrollment decline.

College President Guy Lease was gratified with the news.

“We are very pleased with the budget and particularly excited that the legislature and the governor have found the means to reduce enrollment fees for our students,” Lease said. “This budget sends a strong message to the people of California that the Legislature and the governor value education and California community colleges.”

The decrease would allow a full-time student taking 15 units a quarter to pay $600 in annual tuition instead of $780, said the college’s spokeswoman Christina Proctor.

“Fee increases definitely has a detrimental affect on enrollment, which the college has experienced,” Proctor said “Vice-versa, fee decreases allows some of those students to return that in the past might have found it not affordable.

Student Miranda Flores thought the price drop will help the college fill desks. Flores, an incoming sophomore at Whittell High School taking a summer Spanish class at the college, expects to work in the short-term future and possibly use the money on cheaper classes at Lake Tahoe Community College.

“If prices were cheaper I would take more courses,” she said.

Ron Owens, public information officer for the California Community College Chancellor Mark Drummond, was careful with his words since the deal, although approved by the Legislature and signed by the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is not final.

“The news is good,” he said. “If what we’ve hear is true it’s a very good budget for community colleges.”

Since the 2002-’03 school year when 1,876 students were enrolled, the college has seen a drop in numbers. The past school year of 2005-’06 had an enrollment in the ballpark of 1,600.

Proctor hoped the tuition decrease will have a reverse affect on enrollment.

“Only time will tell,” she said.


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