California Community Colleges System

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California Community Colleges System
California Community Colleges System logo.png
Motto Empowering community colleges through leadership, advocacy, and support
Type Public community college system
Established 1967
Endowment US$25 million (planned permanent endowment)
Chancellor Dr. Brice Harris
Academic staff
Students 2,400,000
Location ,
Campus 113 campuses
Affiliations California Community Colleges

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The entrance to California Community Colleges headquarters in Sacramento

The California Community Colleges System (CCCS) consists of 113 community colleges in 72 community college districts in the U.S. state of California. Created by legislation in 1967, it is the largest system of higher education in the world,[citation needed] serving more than 2.4 million students with a wide variety of educational and career goals.

Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the CCCS is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the University of California system and the California State University system. Like the two other systems, the CCCS is headed by an executive officer and a governing board. The 17 member Board of Governors (BOG) sets direction for the system and is in turn appointed by the California Governor. They appoint the Chancellor who is the chief executive officer of the system. Locally elected Boards of Trustees work on the district level with Presidents who run the individual college campuses.[1]

The CCCS is a founding and charter member of CENIC, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, the nonprofit organization which provides extremely high-performance Internet-based networking to California's K-12 research and education community.


In 1907, the California State Legislature, seeing a benefit to society in education beyond high school but realizing the load could not be carried by existing colleges, authorized the state's high schools to create "junior colleges" to offer what were termed "postgraduate courses of study" similar to the courses offered in just the first two years of university studies.[2] A collegiate "department" of Fresno High School was set up in the fall of 1910 that later developed into becoming Fresno City College, which is the oldest existing public community college in California and the second oldest existing public community college in the United States.

Thanks to the efforts of people such as Professor Alexis F. Lange, Dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, the Junior College Act was passed in 1917, expanding the mission by adding trade studies such as mechanical and industrial arts, household economy, agriculture, and commerce. In the early 1920s, the Legislature authorized the creation of separate colleges, in addition to the programs offered in high schools.[2] In 1921, California passed legislation which allowed for the creation of community college districts. In September of 1921, Modesto Junior College (the 16th oldest community college) became the first ever community college district. That launched the current model of community colleges that continued to offer trade studies such as mechanical and industrial arts but now included general education. The first ever transfer student was from Modesto Junior College and transferred to Stanford in 1922. By 1932 there were 38 junior colleges in the state. The 1944 GI Bill dramatically increased college enrollments, and by 1950 there were 50 junior colleges. By 1960 there were 56 districts in California offering junior college courses, and 28 of those districts were not high school districts but were "junior college districts" formed expressly for the governance of those schools.

The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education and the resulting Donahoe Act was a turning point in higher education in California. The UC and CSU systems were to limit their enrollments, yet an overall goal was to "provide an appropriate place in California public higher education for every student who is willing and able to benefit from attendance", meaning the junior colleges were to fulfill this role. In 1967, the Governor and Legislature created the Board of Governors for the Community Colleges to oversee the community colleges and formally established the community college district system, requiring all areas of the state to be included within a community college district.[3] The degree of local control in this system, a side effect of the origins of many colleges within high school districts, can be seen in that 52 of the 72 districts (72%) govern only a single college; only a few districts in major metropolitan areas control more than four colleges.

The Master Plan for Higher Education also banned tuition, as it was based on the ideal that public higher education should be free to students (just like K-12 primary and secondary education). As officially enacted, it states that public higher education "shall be tuition free to all residents." Thus, California residents legally do not pay tuition. However, the state has suffered severe budget deficits ever since the enacting of Proposition 13 in 1978, which led to the imposition of per-unit enrollment fees for California residents (equivalent in all but name to tuition) at all community colleges and all CSU and UC campuses to get around the legal ban on tuition. Non-resident and international students, however, do pay tuition, which at community colleges is usually an additional $100 per unit (or credit) on top of the standard enrollment fee. Since no other American state bans tuition in public higher education, this issue is unique to California. In summer 2010, the state's public higher education systems began investigating the possibility of dropping the semantic confusion and switching to the more accurate term, tuition.[4]

In the past decade, tuition and fees have fluctuated with the state's budget. For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, enrollment fees ranged between $11 and $13 per credit. However, with the state's budget deficits in the early-to-mid 2000s, fees rose to $18 per unit in 2003, and, by 2004, reached $26 per unit. Since then, fees dropped to $20 per unit, down $6 from January 2007. It was the lowest enrollment fee of any college or university in the United States. On July 28, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB2X (the education trailer bill to the 2009-10 state budget), setting the community college enrollment fee back at $26 per unit, effective for the Fall 2009 term. As of July, 2011, per-unit fees at California's community colleges stand at $36 per unit. Effective Summer 2012, tuition will be raised to $46 per unit.

The newest additions to the California Community Colleges system are Moreno Valley College and Norco College, which became the 111th and 112th colleges of the CCC system in 2010. Clovis Community College became the 113th college in 2015.


The CCCS is governed by the Board of Governors which, within the bounds of state law, sets systemwide policy. The 17 Board members, who represent the public, faculty, students, and classified employees, are appointed by the Governor of California as directed by Section 71000 of the California Education Code.[5] The Board is also directed by the Education Code to allow local authority and control of the community college districts to the "maximum degree permissible" and AB 1725 in 1974 added a formal consultation process which has resulted in the formation of a Consultation Council[6] to assure the Board of Governors and Chancellor's Office remain responsive in this respect.

The system is administered by the Chancellor's Office located in Sacramento, which is responsible for allocating state funding and provides leadership and technical assistance to the colleges. The Chancellor brings policy recommendations to the Board of Governors, and possesses the authority to implement the policies of the Board through his leadership of the Chancellor's Office. The Chancellor plays a key role in the consultation process.

Student government

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California Education Code § 76060 allows the governing board of a community college district to authorize the students of a college to organize a student body association.[7] The student body association may conduct any activities, including fundraising activities, that is approved by the appropriate college officials.[7] The governing board of the community college district may also authorize the students of a college to organize more than one student body association when the governing board finds that day students and evening students each need an association or geographic circumstances make the organization of only one student body association impractical or inconvenient.[7]

Students have a right to participate. The BOG has established minimum standards governing procedures established by governing boards of community college districts to ensure faculty, staff, and students the right to participate effectively in district and college governance, and the opportunity to express their opinions at the campus level and to ensure that these opinions are given every reasonable consideration.[8][9] The BOG standards state that the governing board of a community college district shall adopt policies and procedures that provide students the opportunity to participate effectively in district and college governance, including:[10]

  1. providing an opportunity to participate in formulation and development of district and college policies and procedures that have or will have a significant effect on students, including the opportunity to participate in processes for jointly developing recommendations to the governing board;
  2. not taking action on a matter having a significant effect on students until it has provided students with an opportunity to participate in the formulation of the policy or procedure or the joint development of recommendations;
  3. ensuring that recommendations and positions developed by students are given every reasonable consideration at the district and college levels; and
  4. recognizing each associated student organization or its equivalent within the district as provided by Education Code § 76060 as the representative body of the students to offer opinions and to make recommendations to the administration of a college and to the governing board of a district with regard to district and college policies and procedures that have or will have a significant effect on students; and
  5. ensuring that the selection of student representatives to serve on college or district committees, task forces, or other governance groups shall be made, after consultation with designated parties, by the appropriate officially recognized associated student organization(s) within the district.

District and college policies and procedures that have or will have a "significant effect on students" includes:[10]

  1. grading policies;
  2. codes of student conduct;
  3. academic disciplinary policies;
  4. curriculum development;
  5. courses or programs which should be initiated or discontinued;
  6. processes for institutional planning and budget development;
  7. standards and policies regarding student preparation and success;
  8. student services planning and development;
  9. student fees within the authority of the district to adopt; and
  10. any other district and college policy, procedure, or related matter that the district governing board determines will have a significant effect on students.

The governing body of the association may order that an election be held for the purpose of establishing a student representation fee of $1 per semester, and a student may, for religious, political, financial, or moral reasons, refuse to pay the student representation fee in writing at the time the student pays other fees.[7] Regulations in the California Code of Regulations (CCR) require district governing boards to include information pertaining to the representation fee in the materials given to each student at registration, including its purpose, amount, and their right to refuse to pay the fee for religious, political, moral or financial reasons.[11]

The students of this largest system of education in the world are represented through a statewide students' union known as the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC). The SSCCC has a General Assembly composed of Delegates. Meetings of the General Assembly are held twice in each academic year. The Delegates are selected by community college-associated student organizations. The SSCCC also has a Student Senate Council composed of 30 Senators. The SSCCC has 10 regional subdivisions and each subdivision or "Region" annually elects three Senators. Meetings of the Student Senate Council are held about 10 times during each academic year. The Student Senate Council may nominate students for appointment to seats on the Board of Governors and it may appoint two representatives to the Chancellor's Consultation Council.


The 2.4 million students within the California Community Colleges system serve as the basis for the economic revitalization of California's workforce. Through its vocational endeavors, the CCC system has played a pivotal role in preparing nurses, firefighters, police, welders, auto mechanics, airplane mechanics, and construction workers to help mold the society of California.


CCC Historical Enrollment.jpg
CCC Gender.jpg
Racial and/or ethnic background (2013)
Students[12] California[13] United States[14]
Asian 11% 10% 5%
Black 7% 7% 13%
Filipino 3% 3.9% 1.1%
(of any race)
41% 38% 17%
Non-Hispanic White 29% 39% 63%
Native American 0.4% 2% 1%
Multi-ethnic 4% N/A N/A
Other races 5% N/A N/A


Public Transportation

All 113 CCCs are empowered to establish their own college transit programs as state legislation allows for the collection of transportation fees. A transportation fee and program can be created if a majority of students vote in favor of such a program in a publicly held campus election. There are now a handful of these transit programs at several colleges.[16]

Faculty and staff

The California Community College system had a total employee headcount of 89,497 in Fall 2006. While tenured and tenure tracked faculty were relatively well-compensated, they comprise a very small fraction of overall faculty compared to California's other two tertiary education systems. While 86% of CSU faculty members were tenured or tenure-tracked, only 30% of CCCS faculty were tenured or tenure-tracked. Temporary faculty, those who are not tenure tracked, earned an average of $62.86 per hour for those teaching for-credit courses, $47.46 for non-credit instruction, $54.93 for instructional support and $63.86 for "overload" instruction.[17]

Staff and faculty compensation varied greatly by district. The overall average salary for tenured and tenure tracked faculty was $78,498 as of Fall 2006, with 48.7% earning more than $80,001. Salaries ranged from $64,883 in Siskiyous to $90,704 in Santa Barbara. The average for educational administrators was $116,855, while classified administrators earned an average of $87,886, classified professional earned $62,161 and classified support staff earned an average of $43,773.[18]

Data[18] Headcount Percent of total Less than $25,000 $25,000 to $40,000 $40,000 to $50,000 $50,000 to $60,000 $60,000 to $70,000 $70,000 to $80,000 More than $80,000 Mean
Educational administrators 1,965 2.2% 1.93% 0.51% 0.92% 0.97% 1.42% 2.85% 90.08% $116,855
Tenured and tenure tracked faculty 18,196 20.3% 0.21% 0.92% 2.21% 7.85% 16.24% 23.10% 48.70% $78,498
Classified administrators 1,470 2.0% 1.6% 1.22% 4.29% 8.71% 11.29% 15.24% 57.69% $87,816
Classified professionals 1,817 2.0% 7.82% 7.93% 10.24% 18.66% 17.56% 14.14% 21.79% $62,161
Classified support staff 24,425 27.3% 10.51% 25.85% 30.62% 16.68% 7.42% 2.80% 1.85% $43,773
Academic temporary instructors 41,624 46.5% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A


In 2006, Compton College in Compton, California lost its accreditation. Arrangements were made to have the college's governance transferred to El Camino College, a neighboring college.[19] Its new name, as a division of El Camino College, is "El Camino College Compton Center." Under El Camino College the "Center" is fully accredited. Plans are being made to re-establish Compton College as a separate college several years in the future.

In July 2013, City College of San Francisco was notified by its accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, that its accreditation would be revoked in 2014 if the college failed an appeals process. Brice Harris, the systemwide chancellor of the California Community Colleges system, then appointed a "special trustee with extraordinary powers," an individual granted unilateral powers, to attempt to bring the college back into compliance with the ACCJC's accreditation standards.[20]


  1. Board of Governors
  2. 2.0 2.1 LHC 2012, p. 5.
  3. LHC 2012, p. 6.
  4. Larry Gordon, "California universities consider adopting the T-word: tuition", Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2010.
  5. California Education Code Section 71000.
  6. Chancellor's Consultation Council
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 California Education Code § 76060 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "edc76060" defined multiple times with different content
  8. Chapter 973 of the California Statutes of 1988
  9. California Education Code § 70901(b)(1)(E)
  10. 10.0 10.1 5 CCR § 51023.7
  11. 5 CCR § 54805
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  15. | Chancellor's Office | Data Mart
  16. [1][dead link]
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  18. 18.0 18.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  19. CSU | Public Affairs | Daily Clips. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  20. City College of S.F. trustees lose power. SFGate (2013-07-09). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
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External links