SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — The fees to attend California’s community colleges are by far the lowest in the U.S. — less than half the national average — yet at least 40 percent of the 2.4 million students in the nation’s largest higher education system pay nothing at all.

The reasons? A financial aid program and a half-century-old vision that made affordability and open access the chief aim of the two-year schools.

After steep state spending cuts forced colleges to reduce course offerings and turn students away, college leaders, lawmakers and experts are questioning whether California can afford it.

The 112-college system’s governing board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a plan that would require students to maintain at least a C-average to remain eligible for a fee waiver.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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