SMC — Two donors stepped forward Wednesday with a $250,000 donation to support scholarships for Santa Monica College students to attend higher-cost classes offered by the school to provide access to needed courses.
Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, long-time supporters of the college who have also donated funds for scholarships and the Broad Stage in the past, came forward with the donation Wednesday morning after reading about the classes in news reports, said SMC Superintendent Chui Tsang.
As the Daily Press reported last week, the college’s Board of Trustees voted to move forward with plans to create a self-sustaining set of college courses for the winter semester, which puts the entire financial burden of the class on the students.
The proposed classes can cost upwards of $150 per unit, compared to the $46 per unit students will have to pay for normal community college classes, which receive state funding.
Funding cuts since 2008 have resulted in 1,000 classes cut from SMC’s schedule, which meant a lot of students were not getting the credits they needed to complete their education, Tsang said.
Things will get worse if a tax measure set for the November ballot fails, so the trustees took action last week to create a second kind of class called open enrollment contract courses.
They provide the same material and credit, but at a higher cost.
Although students can use financial aid to pay for the classes, Tsang began seeking donations for a scholarship fund immediately after the new policy passed.
Greenberg and Steinhauser’s gift was important to that goal, although he hopes that it won’t be necessary in the future.
“We would love to restore the programs that we had to painfully cut out because of state funding reductions,” he said.
Some students have come out against the plan, saying the board’s action is a move toward privatizing programs while relieving the state of its responsibility to adequately fund public higher education. Some said the two-tier system could create divisions within the student body.