BARSTOW • Ashley Voyce began her first semester at Barstow Community College Monday.
A resident of Apple Valley, Voyce, who is taking 12 units, said she is attending Barstow College because the classes she needs for a career in nursing were full at Victor Valley College. She paid about $312 in fees this semester, using a disability check of $705 a month.
If Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget — which includes a fee increase for community college students — becomes a reality she says she may not be able to attend college any more.
"I'm currently living with my parents and my kids are with their dad in Texas," Voyce said, adding that she plans on moving to Texas. "I'm so strapped as it is. This is going to put a halt in my career."
To help bring the state out of a $25.4 billion deficit, Brown has proposed a cut of $400 million to community colleges and suggested increasing student fees from $26 per unit to $36 per unit. Brown is also proposing to cut funding to the University of California and California State University systems by $500 million each.
If Brown's proposed budget does become a reality, Barstow Community College would likely lose students as well as funding, said President Thom Armstrong. He pointed out that even though the proposed budget calls for cutting $400 million from community colleges, increasing student fees would result would offset that cut by $110 million statewide, Armstrong said. But many students — especially those who aren't eligible for a fee-waiver — won't be able to afford that increase.
"(California Community Colleges) are projecting that probably 350,000 students statewide would be eliminated from community colleges," Armstrong said.
The proposed budget could also create a cash-flow problem for community colleges if passed, making it difficult for them to pay their employees. Armstrong noted that the proposed budget calls for deferring money community colleges would normally receive in January and May to October.
Armstrong said he isn't sure at this point what classes and services could suffer if Brown's proposed budget is adopted. The number of classes offered has decreased already, with the college cutting the number of sections offered, he said. Summer classes last year were also cut by about a third. College officials will continue to monitor the budget situation, he said.
Several students were not happy when they found out about the proposed fee increases.
Shaun Milazzo, who is studying criminal justice, said he has been paying for school through grants, but if the budget was adopted he would probably not be able to continue.
Ravyn Grenfell, who says she's graduating in about four months, said many students aren't going to be able to go to college.
"People are not going to get an education because we can't afford it," she said.
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