Changing fee waiver requirements

Steve Perotti, TSV Staff Writer

The governing board for California’s community colleges is considering a change in regards to the fee waivers used by over 40 percent of its students, but will the restrictions have positive effects or negative effects for future applicants?

The average price for a full time student to attend one of California’s numerous community colleges is $1,380 a year, a figure cited from an article posted by Jaleesa Baulkman for University Herald. Many students who can avoid the tuition cost do so through Free Application for Federal Student Aid as well as Board of Governors fee waivers. The requirements for tuition fees to be waved are antiquated, dating back nearly 50 years to a model that focused on making higher education available and affordable for any and all interested parties. Steve Boilard, a former legislative higher education analyst, told the Associated Press that the goal of affordability is causing more harm to the system than good.

“The community college system is supposed to be affordable for all, but we have shot ourselves in the foot by trying to achieve that through low tuition,” Boilard said.

The proposed measure before the governing board will require students with fee waivers to maintain a C- average for no less than two terms. Those considered disadvantaged will not be held to this restriction. If this measure passes the board’s voting process it will go into effect during the Fall semester of 2016.

Linda Michalowski, vice chancellor for student services and programs, explained to the AP the thought process behind the proposed restriction.

“For a student to enroll and do poorly academically, drop out, come back and do poorly, that does not correlate with student successes, yet our policy on the fee waiver has said it doesn’t matter,” Michalwoski said. “You can fail and fail and fail and come back and we will support you again. That doesn’t benefit anybody.”

Lawrence De LaCruz, a first semester Skyline student, has his tuition covered by the BOG fee waiver. De LaCruz, a member of a household with only one working parent, relies heavily on his BOG waiver. When asked if the proposed grade point average requirement was a good change, De LaCruz supported the new concept.

“I think it’s a good idea,” De LaCruz said. “This way they know what they’re getting themselves into.”

Jessica Montalbano is also in her first year at Skyline, but her tuition is not covered by a fee waiver from the BOG. Montalbano, who comes from a working class family, supports the new measure, stating that there are too many loopholes in the current system and that the majority of students making use of the waivers are simply taking advantage of the process.

“A lot of people just come for free, and it’s unfair for the people that pay,” Montalbano said.

De LaCruz and Montalbano agree, disadvantaged students should be able to make use of fee waivers without the required grade average.

“The waivers are for students who really need them in the first place,” De LaCruz said. “Not for people who just want to pull one over on the system.”

Dr. John Mosby, Skyline’s Dean of Enrollment Services, explained via email that the new guidelines should not negatively affect student enrollment and may give students a catalyst to maintaining higher grades.

“It is not believed that this will effect enrollment in the semesters to come and may contribute to students maintaining SAP [Satisfactory Academic Progress standards,] utilizing additional resources on campus and lead to successful college completion,” Mosby said.