Transfers to be hurt by CSU budget

Ariel Messman-Rucker

With the economy in a downward spiral and state budget cuts looming, the California State university system has plans to turn away students as early as next fall, a decision that will affect DVC students hoping to transfer, and the college itself.

Due to budget cuts, the 23-campus Cal State system stands to lose as much as $600 million this year and next.

In order to deal with an already overburdened system, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed declared a “systemwide impaction” and said enrollment will be cut by 10,000 students next fall in response to the loss of funding, according to a memo sent to all CSU faculty and staff by Reed on Nov. 18.

While this will help fix a situation in which students have been unable to get into enough classes to complete their degrees on time, it also means students who would previously have been accepted may now be turned away.

“For several years, the CSU has provided access to more students while funding and resources from the state have remained static, and in some years, actually declined,” Reed said.

High school graduates looking to attend a CSU are going to get the short end of the stick, and even community college students may be asked to complete more courses and receive higher GPA’s before being allowed to transfer, said Nicola Place, DVC senior academic and student services manager.

Until now a California community college student needed only a 2.0 GPA, 60 transferable units, and completion of all general ed requirements to be eligible for transfer, Place said.

Transfer students will still have priority over incoming freshman, Place said, but students wishing to transfer to out-of-area CSUs may now be waitlisted.

As a result, transfer students may be forced to continue on at DVC, at the same time the colleges faces a big increase in the number of arriving freshmen – all of this coinciding with class cuts and a campus already stretched to capacity.

“All 10,000 freshman that they’re going to turn away are going to come to us, and we’re having budget cuts as well,” Place said.

DVC’s enrollment is already up 4.2 percent from last year, a trend that DVC President Judy Walters attributed to the poor economy.

“I think the increase in enrollment has to do with the unemployment rate and how much it’s costing to go to a four-year college,” she said.

The community college system, with 110 campuses across the state, has always prided itself on being open to all Californians, but these budget cuts are not limited to the state level.

The district is expecting $8 to $9 million in budget cuts to be spread across the three colleges, said Susan Lamb, vice president of instruction.

Tim Leong, the district’s director of communications, said, with an increase in students, there is always a concern about having enough faculty members and classrooms to accommodate the influx.

“There will be competition for actual facilities,” Leong said. “But there is room for growth and [DVC] college can handle that up to a point.”

DVC will have a difficult time making room for more students in its specialized courses, such as anatomy and physiology, but “if they’re looking at general courses then yes, we should be OK,” Lamb said.

“We’re all struggling up and down the state,” she added. “How do you stretch each dollar farther, and how do you have the least impact of students? It’s a hard choice sometimes.”

According to the research office, 1,262 DVC students transferred to a CSU during the 2007-2008 school year, said Mohamed Eisa, dean of planning, research and student outcomes.

“Applications for fall 2009 are up almost 20 percent from last year, with a 36 percent increase in applications from community college transfer students,” Chancellor Reed said in the Nov. 18 memo.

CSU East Bay and SF State are the two most popular transfer recipients for DVC students, with Cal State Sacramento, San Jose State, Cal State Chico and San Diego State close behind, according to the Postsecondary Education Commission.

“Ones already at capacity [such as San Diego State] are likely to take the extreme steps that the impaction policy allows,” Place said.

Although not all DVC students will be able to transfer to the state college of their choice, CSU East Bay, SF State and Humbolt State are not planning to turn away any qualified students because they are currently under capacity.

“East Bay has been in a growth mode,” said Greg Smith, associate vice president of planning and enrollment management for CSU East Bay. “We’re really expecting to enroll the same number of students.”