Community College Drop-Outs Cost California $480 Million in 5 Years

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) have published a report entitled “The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges.” It shows that California spent $480 million on first-year community college drop-outs.

How much does California commit to its community college system?

California leads the states with a $130 million appropriation bill for the community college education of students who leave the system after one year of study or less. Add to this the $24 million in federal student aid that benefit these students, and it indicates a money drain in the Golden State’s community college system.

What does first-year community college attrition cost in the long run?

When taking a closer look at the data over a five-year period that ends with the 2008 to 2009 school year, the long-term price tag levied on taxpayers by first-year community college drop-outs reaches $480 million. This places the California into a first-place position among the states. By comparison, second-place Texas faces a five-year combined cost of $360 million.

What does it cost to attend a community college in California?

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office outlines that the current fee schedule stipulates a cost of $36 per unit. Since the average community college course contains three or four units, class costs usually range from $108 to $144. A full-time student may face a bill of $432 per semester, which does not include books or fees. “A full-time student should generally plan on spending approximately $1,650 each year for books and supplies,” the office advises.

Why should Californians care?

“We’re talking about serious money by a system that can and should be doing better,” report author Mark Schneider tells the San Francisco Chronicle. Indeed, the five-year period has wasted $25 million in Cal grants, $64 million in Pell grants and $390 million in taxpayer-underwritten funding of various aid programs. The latter include the highly contentious fee waivers that target low-income students.

Is there a potential for political backlash?

Indeed, there is a good chance that the AIR report places Governor Jerry Brown into a precarious political position. Having just recently signed AB 131, the hotly debated second part of the California Dream Act, the fact that illegal alien college students can soon compete for state aid already irks Republican legislators. If legal residents and citizens have squandered $480 million in five years, how much will illegal immigrants add to this price tag?

Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.

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