SACRAMENTO — A bill that many Orange County community college officials believe will help increase enrollment passed the Assembly Thursday and was sent to Gov. George Deukmejian.
The measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres), would change the so-called tuition "threshold" so that students would not have to pay the $50-per-semester fee unless they take seven or more units.
Current law imposes the $50 tuition if a student takes six or more units. Since the bulk of community college academic offerings are three-credit courses, this has meant that a student taking two courses is subject to the $50 fee. A student taking less than six units is only charged $5 per unit.
Community college officials in Orange County believe there have been definite patterns of part-time students now taking only one course per semester, whereas before tuition was imposed, such students often took two or more courses a semester.
This fall, for instance, Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa discovered that it had an increase in enrollment but that overall the students were taking fewer courses than in the past.
Since community college funding from the state is based on a formula involving enrollment and the number of units taken by students, community colleges have suffered financially as more students have taken fewer courses.
Orange County community college officials have said they believe that substantially more students will sign up for two three-credit courses each semester if the law is changed.
Deukmejian has not indicated how he views the proposed change in the community college tuition law. It was at Republican Deukmejian's insistence in early 1984 that the Democratic-controlled Legislature finally yielded and enacted community college tuition for the first time.
The legislation was passed in the Assembly, 59 to 10. While no one spoke against the tuition change Thursday night, most of the 10 opposing votes were from Republican legislators who have been critical of community colleges and who were strong advocates of Deukmejian's original tuition plan.