Students listen in at a a crowded lecture. Now some community colleges may start charging more for more popular classes.
Students listen in at a a crowded lecture. Now some community colleges may start charging more for more popular classes. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Now to a community college here in Southern California that has been losing funding from the state. And to make up for that, Santa Monica College is jacking up tuition for its most popular classes by 500 percent. From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott:President Obama and other leaders talk a lot about community college as a low-cost path to a degree and a good job. Here's democratic Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois speaking to Marketplace.


Dick Durbin: A community college is affordable, it's accessible, and it usually provides transferrable credit hours so you can improve on that education and go further.

Students have lined up at community colleges, often to be turned away from classes they need. As demand is rising, schools are cutting courses due to budget cuts. Critics say Santa Monica College's unique two-tier pricing will create two classes of students -- rich and poor. Gail Mellow is president of Laguardia Community College in New York, but she says students with few other options may be willing to pay more to get the credits they need.

Gail Mellow: Where else are they going to go? These kids are not going to go to MIT or Stanford. There's going to be no place for them. And that means their lives are on hold.

President Obama has proposed an $8 billion community college fund to provide more funding for job training. It'll have to get through Congress first. I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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