Santa Monica College (SMC) a two-year college located in Santa Monica, California, is believed to the first public institution to offer in-demand classes at higher tuition rates, according to the LA Times.

The plan approved this week by the governing board, SMC could charge $200 per unit for popular classes like English and math, according to the LA Times. Currently, fees are $36 per unit, set by the Legislature for California community college students.

Jason Islas at Santa Monica’s “The LookOut News” with more details: > Despite student protests, SMC’s board of trustees last week approved an “open enrollment contract educational program” that would allow the school to continue offering classes during the winter and summer sessions, but at a higher cost.

The new program, which would establish a non-profit organization to teach classes in SMC facilities with SMC faculty during the winter and summer sessions, would charge a higher rate.

“We’re one of the few community colleges who haven’t cut winter courses,” said Bruce Smith, SMC’s public information officer.

Over the past four years, SMC - along with other public higher education institutions across California - has lost 13 percent of its funding, Smith said.

Some call the plan innovative at time when public education is facing harsh budget cuts but others say it’s just moving the suffering to students.

“It’s creating a two-tiered system of wealthier students who can afford classes and struggling working-class and low-income students competing for the scraps of what’s left; it’s definitely a move in the wrong direction,” student government President Harrison Wills told the LA Times.

Sixty-three percent of the students at Santa Monica College are of color; 31.8 Latino, 18.8 Asian and 9.8 black.

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