By Jason Gastrich
Assembly Bill 955 would make it easier for California Community Colleges to offer Summer and Winter intersession extension programs under certain conditions.
“If we would have had Winter session, it would’ve allowed me to finish school sooner,” said Brian Reid, 26, an English major. Reid has taken Summer classes and he hopes AB 955 passes because he doesn’t see any downside to it.
According to the bill, Community Colleges would be allowed to offer intersession courses during the Summer and Winter breaks without getting approval from the Board of Governors. However, it also says students cannot use money from the general fund and after the college establishes the program, they must work to maintain it and offer Board of Governors fee waivers to qualifying low-income students.
LBCC President Eloy Oakley supports the bill. He said, “LBCC is turning away thousands of students and our faculty and some of our staff aren’t working in the Summer and Winter. I would like to end that and I think that AB 955 helps us provide opportunities to our students and needed work opportunities to our faculty and staff.”
Bobby Havens, 19, an undecided student, said, “I’d like to take political science or anthropology in intersession.” Havens hopes to take a variety of courses and pick a major soon.
Oakley said, LBCC offered only about 30 percent of the classes it offered during Summer intersession four years ago. No Winter classes were offered this year.
“That hurts all of our students and in particular our veterans who can’t receive their GI Bill benefits unless they are enrolled in courses. This bill would allow us to offer more courses. Although the courses would be at a higher fee, about $250 per unit, it would allow students to finish faster, much like how students access additional classes now through the Cal State University extension program,” Oakley said.
According to Federal Reserve data, American students, former students and graduates owe more than $1 trillion in private and federal student loans. California Community College students have access to several forms of tuition assistance. Veterans may use the GI Bill, some students may be eligible for a Pell grant and low income students unqualified for a fee waiver would be offered a tuition discount, Oakley said.
The bill passed 10-2 in the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education and the Assembly Appropriations Committee will vote on it next.