By Ben Markley
The Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition for the next academic year, $1 for in-state students and $3 for out-of-state students, at their Feb. 16 meeting. Coupled with the tuition increase approved at the Nov. 17 meeting, tuition will be $3 more for in-state students and $8 more for out-of-state students.
The increase will go toward classroom furniture and equipment. Prior to the Board’s vote, President Terry Calaway clarified that these funds would ultimately be allocated with or without a tuition increase.
“Whatever the Board decides to do, it will be our intention to direct one dollar of our tuition to classroom furniture and equipment,” he said. “We are going to make those improvements, but we’d just have to find that money somewhere else.”
All commenting trustees who voted for the motion expressed reluctance over their decision.
“I always find this to be one of the most troubling recommendations that comes before us every year,” said Don Weiss, Trustee Chair. “I believe that the mission and the charter of a community college demands that we keep tuition as low as possible in order to keep the door open to as many students as possible.”
Trustee Bob Drummond ultimately voted for the increase due to tangible benefits he had seen in past tuition increases.
“We’ve done this before, and this is another attempt on our part to improve the quality on our campus,” Drummond said. “There’s a limit to this, and we want to take a close look at that in the future.”
Trustee Greg Musil also voted for the increase but expressed concern over the college’s consistent increases in tuition over the past few years.
“I will look with more skepticism toward those future increases based on this one,” Musil said. “Every time we do this and add it to the student’s burden, we add it to the Foundation’s burden to raise more money for scholarships. We end up with students further in debt.”
Trustee Melody Rayl, who also approved the motion, suggested that future costs might fall on taxpayers rather than students.
“At some point we have to decide how much of the load we’re going to ask our students to carry and how much the citizens are willing to carry given the acknowledgement that the role that we play in the county-wide recovery is so important,” Rayl said.
Some trustees showed more than just reluctance.
“I think it’s very important for us to have the latest technology, and we did increase tuition in 2010 for that purpose…I do believe we should have excellent classroom environment,” said Trustee Jerry Cook. “I just frankly believe that we can find this $400- to $450,000 in our capital budget, or other sources in the budget and not at the expense of student tuition, so that’s why I will continue to vote ‘no’ on this issue.”
Cook and Trustee Stephanie Sharp both opposed the motion, but it ultimately passed.
Student Jeb Flynn does not object to the tuition increase.
“It’s alright with me,” Flynn said. “I’m only taking one class right now, so three dollars isn’t that bad. It’s already so cheap, and so I feel like a little bit here, it’s not too much.”
Contact Ben Markley, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Kimbrough, special to the Ledger, contributed to this article