By Helena Worthen and Joe Berry
The news that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has decided to terminate accreditation for City College of San Francisco in July 2014 may make some people hesitate to enroll in Fall 2013 classes.
They may fear that their classes won’t transfer and they will be left high and dry in the middle of progress toward a degree or certificate.
City College supporters are saying the opposite: the college is still accredited, classes will transfer, and enrolling will actually help keep CCSF alive.
Why is this?
The answer: Enrollment is the basis for bringing in state funding. When enrollment, drops, state funding drops. To keep state funding up and keep CCSF standing when this crisis has cleared, City College supporters urge people to enroll.
Tuition, at $46 per credit, does not cover the real cost of an education at City College. What a student pays per 3-credit course covers about the price of one day’s work for a single City College non-teaching employee.
Some of the rest of the cost of education comes from local property taxes, the special parcel tax, grants and borrowed money from bonds. However, over half of the cost of a City College education comes from state funding.
Enrollment is measured in Full Time Equivalent Students, or FTES, which means 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year. Every FTES brings in about $5,000 to the college. Every time a student pays $138 for a 3-credit class, the state kicks in $167.
During the last year, total enrollment at CCSF has dropped 15 percent, from about 30,000 FTES to 25,500 FTES. (The overall headcount figures, which include students who may be taking only one or two classes, are 105,000 and 85,000.)
This drop has cost CCSF about $5.5 million for the 2012-2013 school year out of a total budget of $150 million. Since the funding rate for one year is applied to the funds received for the next year, state funding for 2013-2014 will be even less.
When state funding drops, faculty and staff get laid off, class size expands, more classes get cut, and whole programs may disappear. Once classes, and especially whole programs, are gone, they are very difficult to resurrect.
The faculty and staff people go elsewhere and find other jobs. Students leave for other schools and/or give up their education. The years of work that went into the creation of classes and programs can’t be done again.
You do not have to live in San Francisco to attend City College. Many people come from down the peninsula and across the Bay. Non-credit classes, which also capture state funding but at a different rate, are free.
City College will survive in some form. What form it survives in will depend on decisions made during the upcoming months. The public can influence these decisions in many ways. One of the most effective right now is to enroll in classes.
Helena Worthen and Joe Berry can be reached at Worthenberry@yahoo.com.