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Community College Enrollment at 20-Year Low

California community colleges hit a 20-year enrollment low thanks to state funding cuts.

California’s community college enrollment is at a twenty-year low according to a report out today. With state funding to the schools cut by $1.5 billion since 2007, many colleges across San Diego County and the rest of the state dramatically reduced class offerings.

The toll of the recession on California Community Colleges is well known to San Diego County students. San Diego Community Colleges cut more than 2,600 class sections, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Colleges lost 1,600 classes and Palomar College halved its summer offerings.

To weather the squeeze, colleges have focused resources on students who are on-track to complete a transfer or associate’s degree, according to Sarah Bohn, research fellow for the Public Policy Institute of California and one of the report authors. That has squeezed out some first-time freshmen.

“We may be hindering the access of that group of young students," Bohn said. "And then at the same time, the access for returning students, or those who need to take a semester away to work or something and come back, they’re having a much harder time enrolling."

The crunch on access to community colleges across the state is particularly worrisome because of the state's need for more college graduates for its future workforce, Bohn said.

The temporary taxes voters approved through Proposition 30 are already bringing back a handful of classes to Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, but Bohn said the new taxes won’t return community colleges to their pre-recession funding levels.

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