College leans toward 5 percent tuition hike for next school year

Dec 14, 2012 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees indicated this week that it would favor a 5 percent tuition increase for community college students next year.

CWC President Jo Anne McFarland asked for board member feedback Wednesday in preparation for a Wyoming Community College Commission phone conference scheduled for Dec. 19 to discuss tuition rates for the 2013-14 school year.

"I think it'd be better if we understand where you stand before the meeting," McFarland said.

Last year, the WCCC authorized a tuition hike of 5 percent or less among Wyoming's seven community colleges, and McFarland said the same increase may be forthcoming this year.

"Given our budget situation and cuts we're facing with needs growing, I think to continue to provide high-quality education it makes sense for the commission to consider a 5 percent tuition adjustment," McFarland said, adding that tuition rates in Wyoming are low compared to surrounding states.

"It also is low even compared to family income in our area," she said.

At CWC, a 5 percent increase would amount to an extra $4 per credit, or $48 per semester for people with a full course load. McFarland said such increases have been "manageable" for students, especially compared to more severe hikes in the past.

"I can remember years tuition was frozen, then the commission would see reason for a drastic increase," she said. "We'd see double digit increases."

Board chair Charlie Krebs and trustee Scott Phister agreed that a 5 percent increase "wouldn't hit too hard."

Ron Granger, CWC's vice president of administrative services, encouraged the board to support the potential rate hike to protect the school's future financial health.

"The thing that concerns me if tuition stays the same isn't necessarily 2014," he said. "What concerns me is 2015 and 2016."

He knows CWC will receive money next year to cover recent growth in enrollment, but after that he said funding from the state is uncertain.

"We don't know if that (enrollment growth money) will be there in 2015 and 2016," he said. "They don't have to put that in our budget. (So) instead of having a $4 per credit hour (increase) it may be a $8-10 per credit hour (increase) at a later date. That's when you start losing students."

Between 2002 and 2008, he said increases amounted to $2-3 per credit hour each year. In 2009 and 2010, tuition rates remained the same, with a 5 percent increase implemented for the 2011-12 school year.

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