Editorial: Fees better than loss of classes

Rather than ax the popular Emeritus Program — which offers free enrichment courses geared for adults over 50 — Cuesta College plans to begin charging for the classes.

That makes sense. With the population of seniors growing, we should at least be maintaining current programs, not gutting them.

Switching to a fee-based system is a reasonable compromise that will allow the emeritus classes to continue — provided there’s enough community support — without putting more fiscal strain on a beleaguered community college already facing major cuts in other areas.

Consider, too, that community college students enrolled in regular credit classes are facing substantial fee increases; there’s a statewide proposal to raise fees to as much as $40 per unit in the fall, up from the current $26. Under the circumstances, we believe it’s fair that students taking enrichment classes pay reasonable fees to help defray the cost of this worthwhile program.

College officials plan to switch to the fee-based Emeritus Program in the fall. They expect fees to range from $39 to $90 per class, depending on the length of the course.

Some scholarships will be available for those who might be unable to pay. That’s a wonderful idea.

Emeritus classes — which cover subjects such as literature, photography, yoga and art — are great opportunities to get out and meet people, learn new skills and in the case of yoga, for example, to get some healthy exercise.

While those opportunities are important for people of all ages, they can be especially critical in helping older seniors stave off feelings of isolation and depression.

We also like the fact that the courses are offered at several locations — South County, North County and San Luis Obispo — so students don’t have to drive long distances to attend.

If emeritus students value these courses — and we believe they do — we strongly urge them to show their support by continuing to enroll, even if the classes can no longer be offered free of charge.

More info

Cuesta College is seeking community partners willing to sponsor scholarships for Emeritus students. Contact the Cuesta College Foundation at 546-3279 for more information.