Few are immune to the challenges posed by inflation. Community college students are no exception.
The national average annual cost to attend a two-year college has increased 46% since 2002, according to educationdata.org.
And tuition is only a fraction of the cost of attendance, with the Public Policy Institute of California reporting that housing, books and “other fees” can drive the total cost up to around $15,000 a year.
Bakersfield College is aware of these rising costs, so officials hope their new “Fall is Free at BC” campaign will help more students find campus life affordable.
“So the Fall is Free program is really about getting the students involved. It’s another way to make sure students know they can afford to get their education ‘for free’ – and that’s important to us is to really emphasize that,” said Nicky Damania , dean of students. “Wherever they are economically, they can get an education, and we will do everything we can to make sure this semester, fall is free for them.”
The college is making this possible by creatively using “various different pots of money,” Damania said, noting that lawmakers recognized the statewide need in their budget bill to provide strong support. to the students, “especially since we’ve had so many students… who are hungry, homeless and have necessary basic needs, mental and physical services.
Nationally and across California, those in education have seen how costs and other factors have played a role in declining enrollment numbers.
While B.C. officials said they haven’t seen a drop in student enrollment throughout the pandemic, many public colleges and universities have, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reporting that public institutions saw 604,000 fewer students enroll last spring, with community college students accounting for about 351,000 of that number — and a total of 827,000 fewer students since the pandemic began. B.C. officials did not immediately release its fall enrollment numbers for 2019-21.
The only requirement for financial aid is that a student complete a free application for federal student aid, a process that takes about 20 minutes. British Columbia wants to meet students where they are in terms of need, said Marisa Marquez, dean of student success and counseling, noting a number of other ways the college can help its students.
“And that’s why things like the Renegade Pantry exist,” Marquez said, referring to a free campus resource that operates on the honor system and provides students with groceries, hygiene products , etc. “And that’s why, not only are we offering… free college for the fall for students, but we’re giving them free opportunities to check out Chromebooks so they can get access to hotspots, to get access to Internet so they can be as successful on and off our campus.The college also has hotspots, she added.
Before British Columbia made free tuition an option, community college students in California were already paying the lowest fees in the country, $46 per unit, or $552 per 12-unit semester (which is considered a full-time enrollment), according to the website of the Office of the Chancellor of California Community Colleges. The fee schedule is expected to return to normal for the spring semester, according to BC.
In addition to reducing the impact on student portfolios, the college is also holding another virtual express registration event from noon to 5 p.m. on August 17 intended to also facilitate registration for the fall semester, which begins on August 22. august. The one-day event offers prospective students assistance with enrollment, enrollment and financial aid applications.
“Bakersfield College has always stepped up and been there for our community and our students,” according to an emailed statement from Zav Dadabhoy, president of Bakersfield College. “And in these difficult financial times, I am so proud of the work our Student Services team has done to better serve students who may be trying to advance their careers or retool their skills.”