To some extent, access to postsecondary education and the ability to pay have always been inseparably linked. We often call education the great equalizer, yet individuals from more affluent families have always been better able to afford tuition to attend more elite private colleges or to earn a degree from a public university without relying on financial aid and student loans as those from middle-class and low-income households.
Now, one community college in California is about to attach some new financial strings to the cost of higher education. One expert says it might be a first. Santa Monica College, with 34,000 students, will implement a new two-tier approach to pricing its classes. Beginning this summer, Santa Monica College will begin increasing tuition for about 200 courses it offers. Students needing to enroll in these classes will have to pay $180 per credit hour, compared to just $36 per credit hour for most classes offered at the college.