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Santa Monica College Shares Nonresidents' Pain

Out-of-staters pay seven times what Californians do. But tough times are keeping them away, and that means a major revenue source is dwindling.

Students from outside of California aren't flocking to in the numbers that officials had anticipated.

Out-of-state residents who pay more than seven times that of in-staters to attend the school are finding it increasingly difficult to relocate, and that makes it even more challenging to close the school's budget gap, the board of trustees said this week.

In combination with drastic state budget cuts, the dwindling revenue source is to blame for a growing deficit. It is now expected to top $7.6 million by the end of the fiscal year, $2 million above what was forecast when the college's budget was adopted in June.

"We have been relying on nonresident tuition," said Trustee Louise Jaffe. "So this is alarming."

Santa Monica College's director of fiscal services, Chris Bonvenuto, told the board Tuesday night that the projected year-end fund balance has worsened in the five months since the college's budget was adopted.

"This isn’t something we have normally seen, and it’s putting a pretty big dent in our revenue projections," he said.

This spring, it will cost California residents $36 per unit, while nonresidents, both domestic and international, will cut checks for $275 a unit. Tuition is slated to increase this summer by $10 and $20 per unit, respectively.

After years of drastic state budget cuts that have forced teacher layoffs and limited class offerings, Vice President of Enrollment Teresita Rodriguez said, the college can no longer guarantee students 12 units, the equivalent of full-time coursework. That, coupled with Santa Monica's high cost of living, puts the college at a disadvantage, she said. 

"Families are looking at the total cost of education," Rodriguez said.

Bonvenuto said that based on his own estimates, that at the least, midyear state budget cuts will translate to a permanent loss of $1.40 million, plus a onetime hit of $1.80 million. He is still waiting on the official word from the state capitol to learn what the precise figures will be.

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“I am completely bewildered and perplexed,” he said, of attempting to budget without hard figures from Sacramento. 

Student Residence Status Fall & Spring Terms 2006 to 2011

Residency 2006 2007 (Fall, Spring)
2008 (Fall, Spring) 2009 Fall, Spring) 2010 (Fall, Spring) 2011 (Fall, Spring) California 24,082 23,555 24,537 24,450 26,601 26,277 27,270 25,906 25,957 25,109 25,027 84.5% 84.4% 84.3% 84.5% 84.7% 84.6% 84.4% 84.1% 83.4% 83.0% 83.5% US State, Not California 1,831 1,642 1,798 1,659 1,947 1,691 2,103 1,775 2,029 1,790 1,755 6.4% 5.9% 6.2% 5.7% 6.2% 5.4% 6.5% 5.8% 6.5% 5.9% 5.9% Foreign Country 2,570 2,722 2,758 2,831 2,864 3,087 2,954 3,135 3,152 3,354 3,195 9.0% 9.7% 9.5% 9.8% 9.1% 9.9% 9.1% 10.2% 10.1% 11.1% 10.7% Total 28,483 27,919 29,093 28,940 31,412 31,055 32,327 30,816 31,138 30,253 29,977

* Data provided by Santa Monica College

Gary Kavanagh February 10, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Left out of the discussion of budget slashing all over our education system is that millions and tens of millions of dollars continue to be poured into expanding parking garage capacity and satellite parking lots for our community colleges like SMC. If we keep firing teachers and keep building more parking, one day America will wake and realize it's educational institutions are parking lots with a little higher education on the side and the not the other way around.
Isabel Storey February 13, 2012 at 08:48 PM
As a COMMUNITY college, Santa College should gear itself to local students. The college should wean itself from dependence on out-of-state tuition. Local people who pay taxes to support the college shouldn't have to subsidize students who come from not only outside the community, but outside the state!
Diane September 09, 2012 at 07:59 PM
My daughter goes to SMC and so do two of her friends. All of them are from the Santa Monica or South Bay area. First, none have or are planning to take a winter break course, nor are their classmates. I don't understand why the school bothers to spend that money to provide so few classes for so few students. Second, there is not enough parking at the school. All three girls have jobs and need their cars to get to school and to work before or after. It is not possible to take public transportation or ride bikes, so they arrive at the campuses at least an hour before their first class, and at least every other week each of them end up missing a class because they have driven around for almost 2 hours looking for a parking space. So they do need more parking structures desperately.

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