Santa Monica College Proposes Controversial Tiered Tuition Fees

In an effort to combat classroom overcrowding, one college considers having students pay a premium for extra classes

One of the many frustrations of higher education for students is trying to register for a class only to discover that it’s full. According to LA Times writer Carla Rivera, one school is looking to offer a possible solution to the problem. Santa Monica College, a two-year community college which boasts a student body of about 34,000, is exploring a plan to offer higher-cost classes that would provide extra courses for those who could afford to pay a premium price. For example, in-demand courses like math and English, which generally cost $36 per unit during regular semesters, would increase to $200 per unit once all the state-funded classes fill up.

According to Rivera, the tiered class format could be offered as soon as this summer and winter sessions, and, if successful, the program could expand to the entire academic year. Although students will be able to apply for financial aid and potential scholarships to afford the premium course cost, many are opposed to the idea, as it appears to cater to the wealthy. Furthermore, critics view the proposal as a way to privatize the public institution. Continued budget cuts are at the root of the unconventional system.

“Our classes are inundated with students begging to be enrolled after they’re full,” Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang told the LA Times. “We’ve had people from the community asking us if we can open up more courses. The alternative is that students can wait and try their luck next semester or go outside to a more expensive private or for-profit college.”

Although just a proposal at this point, the tiered tuition fee is causing quite a stir and varying opinions on its effectiveness and potential flaws. Click here to read more on LATimes.com then share your thoughts on this controversial plan in the comments section below.

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