Fact: Tuition has increased way faster than the cost of living as the public funding portion of community colleges finances has declined.
Myth: Higher tuition has not hurt community college enrollment as it continues to increase.
Fact: The baby boom echo and the increasing unemployment rate are driving community college enrollment. Heller in 2001 showed that a 10% increase in California community college tuition resulted in 1.34% decrease in enrollment. McPherson et al. in 1998 found that a 1% increase in unemployment rate resulted in a 2.1% increase in community college enrollment.
Myth: Financial aid insures that no one is priced out of community colleges.
Fact: According to "Keeping America's Promise", a 2004 report on the future of the community college, a large percent of the American public do not and will not use any financial aid. See our "Interesting Links" sidebar to download a copy of this important study.
Myth: Anyone in the United States who wants higher education can obtain it.
Fact: Many American in the middle classes can no longer afford higher education or carrer training. Take a couple who married and started a family right out of high school. They have income to high for government aid programs, but their income just covers their needs. They know that some higher education would raise their standard of living. They have matured to the point of guaranteed success if they were to attend college, but they can not afford to go. (They also can't afford not to go!) It is however true that most anyone who has earned an associate degree can obtain all the higher education they desire. That is why affordable community colleges are necessary.
Myth: Community colleges can help by offering low price bachelor degrees.
Fact: Community colleges can only be low price if they receive public funds. Any offering of the more costly bachelor degrees without full funding will use community college assets and require higher tuition for its prime mission students. Also in many cases state 4 year institutions have lower per credit hour cost due to economies to scale.
Myth: If the state allowed it, a community college could plan and execute a successful pilot baccalaureate program at no extra tax cost.
Fact: To offer a no extra tax baccalaureate pilot program, one has to make it a "short time loss leader." You use reserves, extra tuition from prime mission students' etc. With no criteria for success other than doing it there will be no failure, hence the pilot program will not serve any purpose other than creeping into a new mission. Out year, financing of an ongoing program/s remains impossible without an increase in public tax funding or destruction of community colleges by raising prime mission tuition to subsidize the bachelor degrees.
Myth: Allowing community college baccalaureate programs is a natural growth path.
Fact: This is no more true than saying the natural growth path for high schools is to offer associate degrees. High schools now offer advanced placement honors courses. There is no question that almost any high school, if allowed, could "successfully" award a few associate degrees as easily as community colleges could "successfully" award a few bachelor degrees!
Myth: Community colleges would only offer low cost baccalaureate programs in a few limited fields.
Fact: No Board member or legislator would be able to explain why the students in the baccalaureate fields get low tuition, while the other taxpayers' students in other fields would have to pay the higher tuition at State universities. Offerings would increase and space would run out. They would then have to limit enrolment or build additional facilities.
Myth: Adding Baccalaureate programs would add to the bottom line and make the Community Collages less dependent upon taxes!
Fact: A public college does not use less tax by providing more services. It uses more! The only way to do more with use less public financing is to cut cost or raise tuition and fees. As we have stated, increasing community college tuition and fees are a real threat to "Community".