Community College board approves tuition hike

Published 1:02 pm Saturday, May 24, 2014

FRANKLIN —The State Board for Community Colleges established the 2014-2015 in-state tuition and mandatory fees rate at $136 per credit hour by unanimous vote at its regular May meeting.

Beginning this fall, in-state students will pay an additional $6 per credit hour, which means the cost of a typical three-hour class will increase by $18 and the cost of a full-time load of classes for the year will increase by $180.

“We always hate tuition hikes,” said Dr. Paul Wm. Conco, president of Paul D. Camp Community College. “Part of our mission as a community college is to have open access and opportunity to attend community colleges. But with rising costs and issues, we have to pay the bills and maintain quality at the best rate we can.”

Conco said the increase is largely due to increased costs in educating people.

“It will help us maintain the education we are able to provide students,” he said. “We are always concerned about maintaing quality.”

About 1/3rd of the college’s funding comes from tuition, while the other 2/3rds comes from the state, which provides another problem, said Conco.

“Talk to any college, or agency or locality that depends on money coming from Richmond, and they will tell you that it is a concern,” he said. “As time goes by, and the threat of no budget approval keeps approaching, we will get some guidance from the governor’s office and from the state community college system of steps we may have to take.

“None of it will be pleasant. We continue to hope that the budget will be passed in time.”

Should it get approved, Conco hoped that the proposed salary increase for staff stayed in tact.

“We have not had salary increases in a number of years,” he said. “This will help us to do that, to be sure that faculty and staff are competitively paid.”

Virginia’s Community Colleges will use the tuition increase to bolster its student services across the state. These resources, which include financial aid counseling and academic coaching, are a growing priority for helping first-generation students and those from underrepresented populations. The increase will also fund higher employee health insurance and retirement costs; utility and technology costs; and the costs of operating new facilities.

“Today’s tuition decision strikes an importance balance between ensuring that Virginians have affordable access to higher education and that we have the people and resources in place to help them succeed when they arrive at one of our community colleges,” said Bruce J. Meyer, chair of the State Board for Community Colleges.

The board’s tuition decision is in accord with Achieve 2015, the VCCS six-year strategic plan that calls for keeping community college tuition and fee rates at one-half or less than that of the comparable rates at Virginia’s four-year universities.

Currently, tuition and mandatory fees at Virginia’s Community Colleges are just over one-third (37 percent) of the average of comparable tuition and fees charged by Virginia’s public four-year institutions.

The State Board increased the tuition rate for out-of-state students by $6.00 per credit hour to a total of $330.60 per credit hour. Out-of-state students make up approximately 5-percent of the total enrollment of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

“It is important for community colleges to be affordable,” Conco said. “It is our mission. We strive and work hard to provide the best quality education, at the best value that we possibly can.”