Charging nearly four times more for in-demand core classes at Santa Monica College is illegal, according to the California attorney general's office.
Santa Monica College's Board of Trustees voted on April 6 to abandon a two-tiered tuition program that would've charged $180 per credit unit for certain classes that fill up quicker, rather than the normal price of $46 per unit.
This week, officials in the Community College Chancellor's Office told the Santa Monica Daily Press they were told by the AG's office the plan would've violated the state's education code. Paul Feist, vice chancellor of communications, said if Santa Monica College tried to move forward with a two-tiered program in the future, they would be vulnerable to legal action from the chancellor's office or other organizations.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott had asked the Board of Trustees to hold off on the plan, expressing concerns that the two-tiered tuition program may be illegal. The Board initially planned to move forward despite objections, but in the fallout of the pepper-spraying incident they decided to abandon the two-tiered tuition plan, at least for now.
The idea behind the two-tiered tuition was to make it easier for students to get into classes they needed to take if they paid more money. Students swarmed an April 3rd Board of Trustees meeting to voice opposition, which resulted in at least 30 protesters getting pepper sprayed by campus police. A panel is now investigating the pepper-spraying incident.
When they proposed the idea, they Santa Monica College put forward a 57-page paper detailing why they believed the two-tiered tuition was legal and necessary.
More than $800 million has been slashed from California community colleges in recent years.
Santa Monica College declined to comment to the AP on the matter because they hadn't received an official opinion from the state AG's office.
The California State University system also reportedly has been mulling the implementation of two-tiered tuition.
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