Tuesday, June 18

Guaranteed Transfer Option has community colleges worried about space


Most California community colleges began accepting students last
week, and community college officials have indicated their concern
over the particularly high number of students expected this
year.

The increase in the number of community college students is
partially attributed to University of California and California
State University eligible students who were redirected to the
community college system for next fall due to cuts in UC and CSU
enrollment.

Some students that are UC-eligible will take part in the
Guaranteed Transfer Option program, which guarantees a spot in a UC
institution following the completion of 60 transferable units at a
community college of their choice.

Students have until June 1 to indicate whether they would like
to take part in the transfer option.

This plan would mean that, for the first time in its history,
UC-eligible students would be unable to find a place in the UC
system, and translates into 6.7 percent fewer freshmen admitted
this year compared to last year.

Linda Michalowsky, spokeswoman for the community college system
office, said that, as of last week, twice as many UC-bound students
opted to forgo the transfer option than decided to take part in the
program.

But the number of anticipated students in the transfer program
is still expected to be high, and community college officials have
indicated concern over the amount of free space available in the
state’s community colleges.

The UC Office of the President, in conjunction with the
Community College System Office, sent out notices alerting students
of the limited space in the community college system, and indicated
that students have to respond rapidly in order to be able to enroll
in classes that can be taken for UC credit.

“Due to budget constraints, we have lost 175,000 students
that were supposed to be enrolled this year but were not,”
Michalowsky said.

“And even though the overall budget provides us with an
additional 3 percent funding for growth, it will not cover all
currently enrolled as well as the redirected students,” she
added.

Since community colleges are open admission institutions, they
have to accept all students willing to enroll. But space concerns
will arise once it comes time to sign up for classes, especially
for high-demand classes that can be taken for UC and CSU
credits.

Joy McCaslin, vice president for student services at Pierce
College, said the school will attempt to process all enrolled
students but will not be adding any additional classes.

“We don’t have the funds for additional
sections,” McCaslin said.

“The transfer option has been put into place, but the
colleges haven’t been given additional funds to provide
process for those students,” she added.

The governor has indicated that he would provide money for
counseling aimed at the transfer option students, but Michalowsky
said the money will not be going to the community colleges.

“He’s providing money to the UC and CSU, but the
students will be with us, so we have concerns since we are already
seriously underfunded in those areas,” Michalowsky said,
referring to the counseling programs.

The governor has provided $1.6 million for UC counselors as part
of the Guaranteed Transfer Option program.

Redirected students may also be limited in their course
selection compared to students who already had a couple of weeks to
sign up for high-demand classes.

“My feeling is that students who get redirected will be at
a disadvantage for enrollment, since their timing is late,”
Michalowsky said.

“But those are also the students who are generally better
equipped to make their way through a highly compressed
environment,” she added.

Students have to complete the transfer program in a maximum of
four years in order to be guaranteed a place in a UC school.

The enrollment cuts are due to the state’s $14 billion
budget crisis, which translated into a 14 percent increase in
student fees and a 10 percent cut in enrollment this year.

“This has not been a terrific year for students at the UC
““ fee increases, cuts to outreach programs, worry about
financial aid ““ and we know some students were
disappointed,” said Hanan Eisenman, spokesman for the UC
Office of the President.

He added that while the UC was unable to accept all eligible
applicants, it tried to “create a seamless path to a UC
college admission in the future.”

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