For six California community colleges, when the classes get crowded, those with money will get in, and the poor will struggle.
On Oct. 10, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 955, allowing six allegedly overcrowded community colleges to charge $200 per unit instead of the state-mandated $46 for their most in-demand classes.
The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Das Williams (D- Santa Barbara), and would effect College of the Canyons, Crafton Hills College, Long Beach City College, Oxnard College, Pasadena City College, and Solano Community College. But state officials and local activists fear this is the first step towards steeply increasing community college fees.
At a California Community College Board of Governors meeting last month, state Chancellor Brice Harris said the tuition hikes could lead to less funding from Sacramento.
“The next time the budget goes in the tank, they’ll tell (us), 'we can’t give it to you, tell your colleges to raise fees,'” he said. “We have had historically free and open equal access. This bill fundamentally changes that equation."
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Harris said he was unavailable.
Shanell Williams, student trustee at City College of San Francisco and an activist who's fought student inequality at the state level before, echoed Harris' sentiments back when AB955 was first on the table. “AB955 creates a system of haves and have nots,” she said. “Students that cannot afford to pay more will essentially be denied access."
A two-tiered payment system was tried once before at Santa Monica College last year. Students protested and were pepper sprayed in an incident that blew up in the news media.
In light of the new tuition hike, we've created an infographic to help put the new costs in context. Check it out below, and link to it directly here. 
For our previous coverage on AB955, click here.