Joint Legislative Audit Committee to examine CSU Extended Ed

Santa Monica College students protest two-tiered pricing model

Fed up with continued controversy over two-tiered fees, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) approved an audit of the California State University (CSU) Extended Education program by an overwhelming bipartisan vote on August 8. 

The audit came at the request of Assemblymember Betsy Butler, who authored CFA-sponsored Assembly Bill 2427, which called for greater accountability of Extended Ed.

This audit request focuses on the policies, procedures, fee structures, revenues and reserve balances within the CSU Extended Education program and its adherence to existing system-wide policies and applicable state laws. The audit will also compare the policies and practices for the CSU state-support programs with those for the Extended Education programs, including student fees, enrollment, curriculum and revenue and assess the fiscal impact on students. 

The audit comes on the heels of several controversies surrounding two-tiered pricing in California’s public colleges and universities. As California Watch wrote in April:

“All eyes are on Santa Monica College, where a controversial plan to offer a tier of higher-priced courses has been met with pepper-spray-tainted protests and legal questions.

“Less noticeably, California State University officials have been mulling their own brand of higher-priced classes. In 2010, officials began exploring whether they could offer more remediation classes and high-demand ‘bottleneck’ classes through Extended Education—a self-supporting program that provides online and face-to-face CSU classes to students without the university admissions process.”

Under the CSU’s plan, students are being forced to pay on average 50% more in Extended Education to take courses required for undergraduate degrees. Furthermore, the tuition freeze that was approved in the budget this year is not applicable to the CSU Extended Education program, which can continue to charge higher fees. These fees are set by local campus administrators with little statewide oversight.

“Getting this audit approved is a significant victory for students and faculty alike,” said Long Beach faculty member Peter Kreysa, Chair of CFA’s Political Action/Legislation Committee. “In particular we’d like to thank Assemblymember Butler for her leadership on this issue.”