If it walks like a tax and quacks like a tax…

mortarboard_Written in 1960, the Master Plan for Higher Education in California designed specific regulations for all California institutions of higher education in order to promote student success.

The plan initiated “enrollment fees” instead of tuition to keep costs down and encourage commitment to higher education. In Chapter IX, it noted that:

Tuition is defined generally as student charges for teaching expenses, whereas fees are charges to students, either collectively or individually, for services not directly related to instruction, such as health, special clinical services, job placement, housing, recreation.

In other words, student fees were to be for “auxiliary costs”.

The rules of the plan are especially stringent for junior [community] colleges, which must maintain quality standards because they have to accept everyone. Community colleges offer education through grade fourteen, two years after high school graduation. The standard collegiate courses offered are transferable to higher institutions, including vocational and technical offerings and liberal arts courses.

Although intended originally to be nominal, “enrollment fees” have steadily risen to the point of being a euphemism for tuition. This is evident because the cost of attending community colleges in California is routinely compared with the tuition charged by community colleges in other states.

Furthermore, in practice, fees tend to rise or fall based on whether the state budget is in the red or black, not on whether “auxiliary costs” are going up or down. Thus, you can have the ludicrous situation in which fees are being raised at the same time that state financial support for the community college system is being cut. In effect, the “fees” that are being imposed on students are really taxes – they are being used to balance the state budget. The time to stop this Orwellian “double-speak” is NOW.

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