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With Big Budget Cuts At 4-Year Schools, Will Students Flock To Less Expensive Community Colleges?

Compton College is part of California's 115-campus community college system. (Courtesy Compton College)
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The recently approved 2020-21 state budget spared community colleges from the direct cuts imposed on the University of California and California State University systems. Together, those systems could see their budgets cuts by $1 billion.

But while the community colleges won’t lose funding this year, they will still face cost-cutting measures down the line.

Being able to continue spending provides a lifeline for community colleges. “I would rather have deferrals than having budget cuts because at least I know the money's going to come at some point,” said Keith Curry, president of Compton College.

The goal is to protect services such as counseling and the campus food bank. Curry is trying to increase enrollment by getting the word out that his campus is protecting student services and is affordable. He said enrollment is up this summer and he hopes fall enrollment will be higher than last year’s.

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Stable enrollments lead to stable budgets as state funding follows students, and state and federal financial aid fills campus coffers. Community college administrators are busy trying to convince potential students that community college is an affordable higher education option and that despite the economic crisis and online instruction, it’s a good bet for people to reach their career goals.