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How Are Community Colleges Funded In California

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About The Student Centered Funding Formula

California Community Colleges and Foundation for California Community Colleges First Response Fund

For decades, Californias community colleges have been funded based on how many students they enroll, but failed to ensure that the community colleges prioritize student success, improve outcomes, or close equity gaps faced by Latinx, African American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and low-income students. Without better strategic investment in critical student supports, large racial/ethnic gaps will continue, poor completion rates will persist, and Californias future well-being will remain in peril as the aspirations of millions of community college students go unfulfilled.

In a system that serves as the gateway to opportunity for more than 2.1 million community college students every year, a system in which far too many students languish for far too long, and in which 52% will fail to achieve a certificate, degree, transfer or reach their college dreams within six years of enrollmentwe knew something had to be done. We knew that when 6 in 10 Black and Latinx students dont get the support they need from their community college to complete a certificate, degree or transfer within six years, there was a moral imperative to move towards a more Student-Centered Funding Formula today.

To learn more about the 2018-2019 Budget Act Student Centered Funding Formula, watch the co-hosted webinar below by the Campaign for College Opportunity and the California Community College Chancellors Office.

Board Proposes 5 Percent Increase To Its $10 Billion Budget To Fund Reforms

Anticipating a different governor with new education priorities, Californias community college system is requesting $488 million in extra funding from the state for the 2019-2020 budget year.

The Board of Governors, the body that oversees the systems 115 colleges, approved the budget request on Monday to fund new and ongoing programs.

The board is seeking a nearly 5 percent increase over its current-year state budget of just over $10 billion.

The extra funding is centered around the systems goals to improve student graduation, transfer rates and certificate completion known as Vision for Success, a roadmap enacted last year to improve outcomes for the systems more than 2 million students. Last year the board asked for a budget that increased its $9.5 billion budget by $382 million.

The request is the opening round in budget negotiations between the college system, the Legislature and the governors office, an annual process that culminates in a new state budget which the Legislature is slated to approve next June. The budget request excludes money typically added to some state education programs to cover rising inflation costs.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat running for governor who has a wide lead over his opponent John Cox in the polls, has already indicated that increased higher education funding will be a top priority in his administration.

Highlights from the budget request include:

California Community Colleges To Advance Expand Bachelors Degree Programs

This post was updated Oct. 31 at 11:57 p.m.

A new state law creating bachelors degree programs at community colleges will reduce barriers and racial equity gaps, said a UCLA professor and representatives from the San Diego Community College District.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 927 into law Oct. 6. The new law makes permanent a pilot program offering bachelors degree programs at 15 community colleges including San Diego Mesa College, Rio Hondo College and Cyprus College. The law also allows other community colleges the opportunity to create bachelors degree programs.

In order for a bachelors degree program to be established at a community college, the California State University chancellor, the University of California president and the president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities must assess the proposed program. The proposed bachelors degree program also cannot already be offered by the CSU or UC.

Previously, the 15 colleges were only allowed one bachelors degree program each and the piloted programs were set to accept their last cohort of students in the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year, according to the legislation text.

Natalia Trinh, the student trustee for the SDCCD, said the new law opens up more opportunities for students to be able to receive a bachelors degree and that it would close racial, ethnic, background and financial equity gaps.

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Unfortunate Political Structures That Support Current Inequitable Funding Mechanisms

Current funding levels for community colleges are the result of important political realities that must be recognized. Scaling investments to meet adequate levels of funding for community colleges faces three critical political challenges associated with political power realities, state budget constraints, and declining support for higher education as registered in public opinion research.

First, current institutional funding disparitiesboth those between four-year universities and community colleges and those between community colleges themselvesresult in part from inequitable access to political power.63 State representativeswho are more likely to have attended or sent their children to four-year institutionsmay also be more likely to respond to the interests of wealthy donors, who support investments in these schools rather than community colleges.64 While higher education funding should not be a zero-sum game, where two- and four-year institutions compete against one another for limited resources, community colleges must receive the necessary resources to deliver high-quality opportunities to all students.

However, disinvestment in higher education is the wrong reaction to these trends, as it tends to reinforce this inaccessibility rather than alleviate it. Community colleges are often the campuses doing the most to offer diverse options to underserved populations and the working class.

Proposition 98 Has Increased The Share Of Community College Funding

SACRAMENTO / Protest over student fees / Thousands march ...

NOTE: General Fund expenditures in this chart do not include federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that were used to replace state higher education funding from 2008 to 2011. General Fund expenditures for other higher education purposes, including Cal Grants, are also excluded.

  • Community college funding is at an all-time high.Community college funding has increased significantly since the Great Recession. In 201112, per student funding was less than $5,000 now it is approaching $7,000. It is still lower than per student funding in the UC, CSU, and K12 systems.
  • California has reinvested more heavily in higher education than the rest of the nation.Between 2010, the beginning of the economic recovery, and 201516, California increased per student funding by 15%. Average investment nationwide increased 2% during this period, and some large statessuch as Pennsylvania and Texascut funding by about 20%.
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    Revenue Gaps Vary Widely By State

    While states consistently fund their public four-year institutions at higher levels than their two-year institutions, the revenue gap varies considerably by state. Wisconsin is the only state in which the average community college receives $3,000 per FTE more in revenue than the average four-year university. Importantly, four-year colleges in Wisconsin still get more total revenue because they have more students than two-year institutions. On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Jersey has a $14,094 per-FTE revenue gap.

    Connecticut has the second-largest revenue gap, and it is a good example of the fact that the overall levels of revenue also matter when looking at these differences. Though it has an unacceptably large difference in revenue, its four-year colleges have the second-highest per-FTE revenue amount and its community colleges have the third-highest. The same problem manifests with states that have lower revenue gaps. South Dakota, for example, has the third-smallest revenue gap, but it is in the bottom 15 in funding for both public four-year colleges and two-year institutions.

    Figure 3

    The next sections look at how the four main sources of revenue affect revenue gaps in different ways.

    Tuition is the predominant driver of the revenue gap in more than two-fifths of states

    Figure 4

    State appropriations drive the revenue gap in 16 states

    Figure 5

    Local appropriations narrowbut do not closerevenue gaps

    Figure 6

    Why Is Community College Seen As Bad

    Many community college students simply do not realize what their schools have to offer in terms of career planning and other support services. They may also fail to take their classes and coursework seriously because they too ascribe to the misconception that community colleges offer a lower quality of education.

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    Inadequate Research On The True Cost Of A High Quality Community College Education

    Although there is evidence that additional investment in community colleges could improve completion, equity, and quality, there is inadequate research on the appropriate level of spending necessary to meet those goals. Relatedly, how much more do low-income and ill-prepared students need, compared with other students, to produce acceptable outcomes? The K12 systemwhich has greater experience educating disadvantaged students and has higher completion rates than higher educationhas a much stronger research basis for answering those questions than does higher education.51

    A Century Foundation working group on community college financial resources is thinking through how K12 costing out analysis might be applied to community colleges. A twenty-one-member group, supported with generous funding from the William T. Grant Foundation, consists of some the nations leading researchers in K12 and higher education funding, as well as experts in higher education policy.52

    First Of All College Is Rarely Free

    California Community Colleges Urges Support for Wildfire Relief Fund

    Community college tuition in California has always been waived for very low-income students . And, in fact, no one paid tuition up until the 1980s.

    But in 2017, when the legislature started funding community colleges to provide free tuition for other students through promise programs, some headlines hailed it as free college. Many say the same about Biden’s plan.

    Let’s be clear: It’s not free college. It’s free tuition. And, especially in California, there’s a big difference.

    “Tuition, particularly in California, is only a fraction of the cost of attending college,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “Transportation, books, not being able to work full time that’s the true cost of college.” And let’s not forget housing, for many, the costliest piece.

    Tuition alone, at $46 per unit, costs full-time community college students around $600 per semester. While that alone is a significant amount of money for many low-income students, the figure is dwarfed by all the other costs of studying, and living while studying often called the “total cost of attendance.”

    East Los Angeles Community College estimates the cost of attendance for California residents for the 2021-22 school year at $15,719 for students living with their parents or other relatives, and $24,377 for students paying rent on their own. Other community colleges in our area make similarestimates.

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    Community Colleges Enroll The Most Disadvantaged Students Yet Receive The Fewest Resources

    The prevailing impulse by policymakers in response to poor results is to impose accountability mechanisms on them. For instance, a number of states have shifted toward systems that fund institutions based in part on student progress. But these approaches are unlikely to be effective unless colleges have the resources necessary to provide quality instruction and support, given the needs of the students who typically enroll. We often hear the mantra that community colleges need to do more with less but if we truly care about improving the promise and performance of two-year schools, we need to investigate, empirically, the importance of resources rather accepting the current level of funding as optimal.

    Today, higher education tends to shower the greatest resources on wealthy and high-achieving students with the fewest educational needs, and devotes the fewest resources to economically disadvantaged students with the greatest educational needs.10 At the most selective four-year colleges, students from the wealthiest socioeconomic quartile outnumber those from the poorest quartile by 14 to 1, yet at community colleges disadvantaged students outnumber those from the richest quarter by 2 to 1 .11

    Figure 1
    Figure 2
    Figure 3

    Student Centered Funding Formula

    The Student Centered Funding Formula is all about ensuring community colleges are funded, at least in part, in how well their students are faring. It is upending how Californias community colleges receive state money by basing general apportionments discretionary funds available to community college districts on three calculations:

    • A base allocation, which largely reflects enrollment.
    • A supplemental allocation based on the numbers of students receiving a College Promise Grant, students receiving a Pell Grant and students covered by AB 540.
    • A student success allocation based on outcomes that include the number of students earning associate degrees and credit certificates, the number of students transferring to four-year colleges and universities, the number of students who complete transfer-level math and English within their first year, the number of students who complete nine or more career education units and the number of student who have attained the regional living wage.

    The Student Centered Funding Formulas metrics are in line with the goals and commitment set forth in the California Community CollegesVision for Success and can have a profound impact closing achievement gaps and boosting key student success outcomes. It was created in coalition with organizations such as the Campaign for College Opportunity, Education Trust-West and other key stakeholders.

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    Is Community College Free In California

    Community college isnt free across the board in California. As of 2021, the state has 116 community colleges, each with its own programs and fees as well as scholarships, grants, and other cost-cutting measures.

    For example, Sacramento City College Los Rios Community College District tuition and enrollment fees for 2020-2021 are $46 per unit for residents and $353 per unit for non-residents. In addition to cooperating with federal and state grant and financial aid programs, the school offers its own financing initiatives, like SCC Philanthropy Scholarships and a textbook voucher assistance program.

    Meanwhile, Los Angeles Trade-Tech , has enrollment fees of $46 per unit for residents and $289 for non-residents . In addition to cooperating with diverse federal and state financial aid and grant programs, LATTC offers its own general scholarships for which students can apply .

    These are just two examples. The point is, not all community colleges in California are free. Tuition and fees still apply. However, the costs are lower than a usual two-year or four-year state university. Further, community colleges offer many options for covering costs.

    California offers some impressive initiatives designed to cover the cost of tuition essentially making school free. The state government has been a pioneer in creating an environment where all community college students can access educational opportunities, regardless of financial means.

    Beyond Balanced Formulas: Considerations For Policy Design

    Californias Education Funding Crisis Explained in 12 ...

    In January 2018, Governor Jerry Brown of California proposed a budget that would apply the thinking behind the K12 Local Control Funding Formula, and establish an outcomes-based funding supplement to the community college sector.35 The formula is similar to the balanced formula proposed in this report, and is receiving serious attention from policymakers. At the same time community college leaders and advocacy groups have expressed serious concerns related to the performance-based funding component of the formula.36

    California will be electing a new governor who would need to address this issue in the coming years. As political leaders and education policymakers work on developing new strategic plans for the coming decade and aligning funding models to those plans, there are at least three important issues that they need to keep in mind if they want to minimize unintended negative consequences associated with upcoming changes.

    Finally, state or system policy designers have to carefully audit the data capacity underlying any accountability system. The appeal of designing funding formulas that reflect nuanced policy goals for higher education may push them ahead of where their data capacity allows them to go while maintaining integrity and fairness to institutions. Not only do metrics have to be clearly defined to create apples-to-apples comparisons , data systems have to be monitored and continually improved to minimize systemic errors in capture, collection, and reporting.

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    Where Does California Community College Funding Come From

  • What is the main source of funding for public schools?
  • Primarily consists of revenue from student fees , sales and services, and grants and contracts, as well as local debt-service payments. Amounts are estimates and do not include federal and state student financial aid for nontuition costs or local bond proceeds.

    The Differences Between K12 And Higher Education: Who Is Served

    The factors that go into a spending-per-student figure in public K12 education are far simpler than the factors that affect public higher education. In a K12 system, the number of students who need a seat in a classroom is a given: it is the number of youth in the geographic area covered by the school district. There may be complications over which school a student is assigned to, and some spillage into private schools, but the school district or state is ultimately responsible for finding a seat for, essentially, every person between the ages of about five and about eighteen.
    The K12 education system has an obligation to serve everyone. Postsecondary education is completely different. There is no fixed set of people who must be enrolled, nor a common understanding of what they should be studying or how long they should persist. For community colleges, there is no naturally defined who or what those are politically determined, and a considerable amount of choice is left to individual students.
    How many people enroll in a community college, and who they are, depends on the kinds of courses and programs that are offered, when and where the classes are held, the admissions requirements and procedures, the type of outreach that is done, the pricing and aid models, transportation and parking, and numerous other design factors. Those factors are generally not at play in K12 enrollment, except in how some of them might affect dropout rates.
    Figure 7

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