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Tuition Increase More Than Academic for Students


THE REGION — This fall, when students at Glendale Community and Los Angeles City colleges are scrambling for the right classes at the right times, many will also be worrying about paying the tuition because of a fee hike included in the new state budget.

In an informal survey on the two campuses, students recently expressed varying degrees of unhappiness with the state's systemwide increase from $10 per unit to $13.

"I was totally against them," said Jill Bundy, last year's LACC student body president. "I am pleased that they weren't as high as we anticipated, but that doesn't make it OK. Thirteen dollars is too high for students at a community college."

Some students were more accepting of the tuition hikes. "I think we should do whatever is necessary to keep the education system," said Glendale nursing student Donna Ragan. Fee increases are "the only thing we can do right now. I don't see how we can do it any other way."

Most academic courses are three units each. Students are generally considered full time when they take 12 units, or four classes. Twelve units will now cost $156, compared to $120 last semester. The fees do not reflect the costs of books, which can be as high as $50 each, or other fees, including parking.

According to Bundy and others, the students who will suffer the most are those whose incomes are low, but not low enough to qualify for grants or other financial aid.

"Single working mothers, they are really getting to be an endangered species here," Glendale student body President Mike Smith said. The reason, he said, is that many of them have low-income jobs. Yet, those jobs pay too much for them to qualify for aid.

In addition to fees, they have to pay for child care, "but they can't even get into the day-care center (on campus) because they can't afford it," he said. "They are the ones who are really in danger here. They slip through the holes. But they need to get the education, or they are going to be nowhere."

"Most of (the students) are coming to get marketable skills," Bundy said. "They're unemployed. How are they going to do that? It doesn't make sense. It's a Catch-22. The state is saying, 'We don't want you to be in the system (on welfare), but we don't want to pay you to get out."'

"It's horrible," Glendale biochemistry student Tae Park said of the increase. "I have to work more," leaving less time to study. "They need education for everybody. There should be some other sources of income-- more taxes, maybe."

LACC student Marina Dovlatian is also finding it difficult to pay for her education.

"I'm having to cut back on things like gas" for the car, she said. "I'm trying to cut down on the energy I use and the telephone."

Fernando Rivas, who is studying education at LACC, said he will have to return to work and go to school part time if he doesn't get financial aid. "It's going to hold up my goals," he said. "My education is very important to me right now.'

Others, such as Glendale students Todd Eyvazian and Robert Romero, will cut back on the number of classes they take.

"What I used to do was take a few classes over full load," Romero said. "Now, I got to be more picky."

At LACC, Dale Macedon, a career counseling assistant, said that, despite the fee hike, applications for admission have not dropped.

"They just apply for fee waivers," he said.

According to Earl Walter, the associate dean of student services, applications for the Board of Governors grants, popularly known as fee waivers, are up slightly, with almost 50% of registering students applying for such aid, up from 47% last year.

The school has an enrollment of about 16,000.

According to Maureen McRae, Glendale's associate dean of student financial services, financial aid applications have not increased.

"It's too soon to tell," she said.

However, when fees increased last semester to $10 per unit from $6, board of governors grants more than doubled.

Money for the grants is provided by the state and administered by the community college's board of governors. Students can qualify for the grants if they receive public assistance, such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, if their income is below certain guidelines or if they demonstrate financial need according to federal guidelines.

Other financial aid options include Cal Grants from the state, a series of federal grants, federal work-study and student loan programs, and private scholarship money. Qualifications vary for the different programs.

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