Significant Donation Hopes to Lessen Blow of Class Price Hikes

After hearing of Santa Monica College’s new summer and winter class price hikes, Los Angeles resident Daniel Greenberg, chairman and chief executive of Electro Rent Corp., and his wife Susan Steinhauser, an attorney and civic activist, gave a $250,000 subsidy to SMC earlier this month. The scholarship is aimed to help alleviate some of the financial burden the two-tier tuition plan places on students.

Dr. Chui L. Tsang, SMC Superintendent and President, said to the Corsair that the allocation of Greenberg and Steinhauser’s donation has yet to be specified with the donors.

Tsang has discussed with his Board of Trustees counterparts some ideas they will be submitting to the donors in regards to the criteria for the scholarship.

As far as the yet-to-be set standards for the scholarship, students—under the proposed criteria—would need to meet both a financial and scholastic merit. Students would be expected to meet the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, be in good academic standing, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, and at least be part-time students.

With regards to the application process, Tsang said it would be “as simple as possible.” Students will be able to “register through a link” on SMC’s website.

The big question is how many students will the $250,000 donation help finance?

“The scholarships will be in the $300 range,” said Tsang. “There would be around 300 scholarships for the summer and an equal amount in the fall.”

Dr. Tsang reiterated that there was no confirmation yet on these numbers, but he is hopeful that this is how the funds will be allocated.

Aside from Greenberg and Steinhauser’s subsidy, other donators have also been contributing to SMC’s funding. According to Tsang, SMC Associates, a support group for the college, recently donated $5,000.

With regards to the new price increase taking effect this coming summer, Tsang said that the contract education is an “attractive choice” for students in a state that has held back on providing funds to community colleges.

“We created a new program that is self- funded in addition to the state-funded program,” Dr. Tsang said.

The two-tier system would allow students to take the harder-to-get-into classes, such as English and Math courses, during summer and winter sessions.

The plan has gained nationwide attention and has raised more than a few eyebrows among students.

According to SMC’s Public Information Office, “since 2008, [the] state has cut funding to community colleges by 23 percent.” Budget cuts have caused SMC to lose some 1,100 class sections over the last four years.

Tsang said that times are tough for the California Community Colleges, which are suffering major cutbacks as the state’s deficit reaches a critical junction.

Santa Monica College, one of California’s leading community colleges— not to mention a home for some 30,000 students—is feeling the brunt of these cutbacks in a major way.

Tsang said that donations such as the Greenberg and Steinhauser’s $250,000 subvention will provide some form of financial relief to SMC students who are in need of financial support to pursue higher education.