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California Sounds Alarm on College Finances

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No Money for College?
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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — As millions of Southland college students get set to head back to school, the heads of all three California school systems have issued a dire warning about the financial health of our state’s higher education.

As California enters its ninth week without
a budget, state leaders said Friday the delay is
creating financial problems and uncertainty for public colleges and
universities.
The heads of the University of California, California State
University and California Community Colleges said the three systems
have not been receiving expected payments from Sacramento and
aren’t sure how much they’ll get for the fiscal year that began
July 1.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature have not reached
agreement on how to close a $19 billion budget shortfall. The
impasse has led to delayed payments to school districts and
counties, furloughs of state employees and the prospect of the
state issuing IOUs.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said the
112-campus system did not receive a $116 million payment in July or
a $277 million payment this month. Campuses are dipping into
savings or borrowing money to pay employee salaries and other
expenses, and further delays could lead some colleges to miss
payroll next month, he said.
Most classes are more than 90 percent full, and there are “huge
wait lists” of students trying to get into courses at many
campuses, Scott added.
“It’s a very difficult situation that community colleges in
California are in,” he said. “I consider it a great tragedy when
we have thousands of students coming to our campuses who we don’t
have classes for.”
The 23-campus California State University system is paying
expenses out of its student fee revenue because it has not received
expected payments from the state, said Chancellor Charles Reed.
“This is day 58 without a budget,” Reed said. “We’re
operating with a blindfold in terms of how many students we can
enroll.”
Over the past two years, California’s public colleges and
universities have increased student fees, furloughed employees,
reduced course offerings and cut enrollment in response to deep
cuts in state funding.
The three system leaders said they are hopeful the new state
budget will include the increased higher education funding proposed
by the governor, but warn they may need to turn away more students
and increase fees if they receive less money that expected.
“We’re really under pressure to reduce the number of students
we’re able to serve, which is antithetical to our access mission,”
UC President Mark Yudof said.

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