CSU cuts could impact community college students

A decision by California State University to cancel spring 2013 admissions will hit community college students, the hardest, say City College of San Francisco officials, who are worried that students who were planning to transfer may be cast adrift.

Cal State officials announced on March 20 that lost funding would compel them to cancel spring 2013 admissions, except for a few hundred students at a handful of campuses. Students who are eligible for fall 2013 admission would be wait-listed until after November, when Californians will vote on ballot initiatives that would raise taxes to fund public education. The university typically receives about 70,000 applications for the spring semester, about a tenth the number of fall applications.

It’s a really unpleasant domino effect that is probably going to happen,” said Phyllis McGuire, a vice chancellor at City College of San Francisco. “We’re going to be reducing the number of college graduates, which goes completely against what we need for our economy. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The university said its goal was to reduce enrollment in 2012-14 by 20,000 to 25,000 students overall, in order to cut costs. Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget for the 2012-13 school year is flat, but the university system would face the loss of $200 million if the tax initiatives fail.

The university’s plans incensed current Cal State students, as well as those who had planned to attend in the coming years.

“Closing the door is the wrong message to send to Sacramento,” said Paul Murre, a San Francisco State junior and president of the California College Democrats. “It’s like they’re giving up.”

Janice Seuss, a freshman at City College, said she was hoping to transfer to San Francisco State in 2014. If her older classmates’ transfers are delayed, she worried, the increased demand in future years could derail her plans.

“If people are on that wait list, it’s just going to push me back,” she said. “I really hope that people do understand how stressful this is for students.”

A few hundred City College students typically transfer each spring, and college officials predicted that Cal State’s move could lead to more crowded classes there, as some students will decide to take more community college classes while they wait to transfer.

While Cal State officials said San Francisco State and seven other campuses would accept students who complete the Associate Degree for Transfer, that degree, mandated in 2010 by state legislation, is so far only available in communications and psychology at City College.

Larry Damato, the chairman of transfer counseling at City College, said he was already warning students that budget cuts could prevent them from transferring.

“City students are going to be delayed, disappointed,” he said. “Some may just put off their education entirely.”


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