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Large Drop in Black Enrollments at California Community Colleges:

The California Community College system is the largest higher education system in the United States. The system includes 109 colleges statewide. It serves more than 2.5 million students. About 1.6 million of these students are enrolled in programs leading to a two-year associate's degree.

In the spring of 2005 there were 120,000 black students, 7.3 percent of all degree-program enrollments at two-year, state-operated colleges in California. One in every 14 black students enrolled in higher education in the United States attends a California community college.

The chancellor's office of the California Community College system reports that from the fall of 2002 to the spring of 2005 black enrollments in degree programs at all 109 state-operated community colleges dropped from 128,746 to 120,494. This is a decrease of 6.4 percent. But the chancellor's office warned that when complete figures for fall 2005 enrollments are released, additional decreases can be expected. Systemwide, the chancellor's office expects enrollments to be down by about 300,000 students. If blacks were to have a proportionate share of this decrease, we can expect black enrollments to be down by 22,000 students this year.

The reason for the decline is most likely the sharp rise in tuition fees. In 2003 students had to pay $11 per credit at the community colleges. In 2004 the fee was raised to $18 per credit. This year students are charged $26 per credit. Thus, over a two-year period, tuition fees at California community colleges have increased by more than 136 percent. The California community colleges tend to educate those from the lower socioeconomic classes, those least able to afford price hikes in higher education. In California, as is the case in the rest of the nation, this group is disproportionately black.

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