BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair AB 386 (Levine) - California State University: Online Course Cross-Enrollment Amended: July 10, 2013 Policy Vote: Education 9-0 Urgency: No Mandate: No Hearing Date: August 12, 2013 Consultant: Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: AB 386 authorizes any California State University (CSU) student enrolled at a CSU campus, who meets specified requirements, to enroll in an online course provided by another CSU campus. This bill requires CSU campuses to provide students with specified information about online courses, and the CSU Trustees to establish an easily accessible online database of these courses by January 1, 2015. This bill further requires the CSU Trustees to report key performance data on online courses, as specified, to the Legislative Analyst's office (LAO) by January 1, 2017, and for the LAO to report the status information to the Legislature. Fiscal Impact: Cross-enrollment system: The CSU estimates that establishing a cross-enrollment system that meets the requirements of this bill will cost $1,090,000 over two years. Annual operational costs would be approximately $250,000, primarily to maintain the course database, enrollment system, and transcript integration (for grading). Authority to cross-enroll: Once the system is established, the authority for students to cross-enroll is unlikely to result in significant costs to the CSU. Individual campuses will have the authority to charge registration fees to students who cross-enroll which should mitigate any administrative costs. LAO report: Potentially significant workload to produce two required reports. Background: Existing law authorizes a student enrolled in any campus of the California Community Colleges (CCC), CSU, or the AB 386 (Levine) Page 1 University of California (UC) who meets specified requirements to enroll, without formal admission and payment of additional fees, in a maximum of one course per academic term at a campus of either of the other systems on a space available basis, as specified. (Education Code § 66751) Existing law provides that a student enrolled in any campus of the CCC, CSU, or UC may cross-enroll if the student: a) completed at least one term at the home campus as a matriculated student and is taking at least 6 units at the home campus during the current term; b) has attained a 2.0 grade point average; c) has paid appropriate tuition and/or fees required by the home campus for that academic term; and, d) has the appropriate academic preparation for the course, as determined by the host campus, consistent with the standard applied to currently enrolled students. (EC § 66752) Existing law prohibits the host campus from counting the cross-enrolled student in the calculation of its headcount or full-time equivalent student (FTES) enrollment. The home campus is authorized to count these students in its calculation of headcount or FTES enrollment only for those units in which the student is enrolled at the home campus. (EC § 66753.5) Proposed Law: AB 386 authorizes, by the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year, a student who meets specified requirements to enroll, without formal admission and without paying additional tuition and fees, in a course provided entirely online by another CSU campus on a space-available basis. This bill establishes the following requirements and authorities for cross enrollment in online courses at the CSU: a) Authorizes nonresident and international CSU students who meet the outlined conditions to cross-enroll, but requires that these students pay the per unit fees for the course at the host campus. b) Authorizes a host campus to charge participating students a reasonable administration fee and specific course-based fees, as specified. c) Requires the CSU Chancellor's office to establish an online methodology to allow students to be AB 386 (Levine) Page 2 informed of the online cross-enrollment option and to simultaneously enroll in both home and host campuses. d) Requires a matriculated CSU student to have priority access to enroll in online courses at his/her home campus, while requiring host campuses to adopt a campus enrollment policy that encourages cross-enrollment. e) Requires that the course be accepted for credit at the home campus on the same basis as that for a matriculated student at the host campus. f) Requires each CSU campus to inform students who may enroll in online courses of specified information related to requirements of the courses. g) Authorizes the host campus to count cross-enrolled students in the calculation of headcount or FTES enrollment at the host campus, but limits both the home and host campus to counting a cross-enrolled student only for those units in which the student is enrolled at each respective campus. h) Requires the CSU Trustees to establish an easily accessible online database of online courses available at all CSU campuses that provides a streamlined method of finding and enrolling in courses that lead toward graduation, general education and major requirements, as well as plan for a 2015-16 operational cross-enrollment process by January 1, 2015. This bill further requires that the CSU Trustees provide key performance data to the Legislature every two years, beginning on or before January 1, 2017. The CSU Trustees are also required to submit key performance data to the LAO by January 1, 2017, and the LAO must submit a status update to the Legislature by October 1, 2017. Staff Comments: In order for the CSU students to be able to cross-enroll in online classes at other CSU campuses, as this bill authorizes, the CSU will need to build the technological infrastructure to comply with the bill's requirements. The initial costs will primarily be incurred to build a system AB 386 (Levine) Page 3 which: 1) can authenticate student identity, and complete the registration and enrollment process with available slots in other campuses' courses; 2) contains a reliable and searchable database of fully-online courses across the CSU system, and which can be easily updated; and, 3) can provide reliable and timely authentication of grading and integration into student transcripts. The CSU estimates that it will cost approximately $1 million to build the system (using a backbone of existing technology). The CSU will also incur minor upfront costs to inform students about the courses, including articulating which courses fulfill graduation requirements for various majors, and which satisfy general education requirements. The CSU estimates ongoing costs of approximately $250,000 annually, to maintain and update the system and course information, and to manage the component of the system that will ensure accurate grades are integrated into transcripts. Staff notes that the CSU already has the authority to implement this bill, and has indicated in a recent press release that it intends to implement online course reforms that are conceptually similar to what it described in this bill. The CSU indicates that such implementation would use approximately $1.1 million of the $10 million budget augmentation it received in the Budget Act. That funding was initially earmarked to expand online courses, but the language limiting the funding uses was stricken by the Governor. This bill would, however, lock the CSU into that plan.