Blog Post | February 11, 2010

Privatizing California’s Community Colleges

The California Community College System and for-profit Kaplan University recently announced an agreement allowing community college students to enroll in online Kaplan courses for $215 per credit. Although this price is 42 percent less than the normal Kaplan sticker price, it is still more than $1,000 per class (a Kaplan class is typically five or six credits), or more than 10 times what it costs at a community college (a typical-four credit course at a community college costs just over $100). A few thoughts and questions come to mind:

1. If the legislature raised community college fees from $26 per credit to Kaplan’s discounted cost, it would bring in eight times more tuition revenue, or almost $3 billion more in 2008-09. With that kind of money, I imagine the community colleges could afford to educate their own students. (Just to be clear, we’re not advocating this approach.)

2. Students who take advantage of this agreement can then transfer into one of Kaplan University’s bachelor degree programs. How about the students – about 64,000 in 2008-09 – who transfer to the California State University or University of California? What assurances do they have that their Kaplan credits will count towards transfer to CSU or UC? With Kaplan’s tuition topping UC’s by 64 percent and CSU’s by 222 percent, does taking advantage of this agreement with Kaplan lock students into higher priced education beyond community college as well?

The state promises affordable college access and then points students to pricy for-profit colleges to get community college credits. Did someone somehow get two of the Governor’s 2010 goals – privatizing prisons and protecting higher education – mixed up?

Click here to read the California Community College and Kaplan University Press Release