Posted at 11 a.m. Feb. 17, 2017
Tuition to be raised in the fall of 2017
The Wyoming Community College Commission recently announced tuition will be raised starting in fall 2017.
On Thursday, Feb. 9, the WCCC voted to raise tuition within community colleges starting next academic year. The tuition increase will be $5 per credit for residents, $8 per credit for Western Undergraduate Exchange Students and $15 per credit for non-residents.
Along with the tuition increase, the commission voted to remove the tuition cap starting in fall 2018. Under the tuition cap, full-time students who are enrolled in 12 hours or more are charged for the cost of 12 hours. Now community colleges will charge for all credits, similar to what the University of Wyoming does.
The commission agreed to keep tuition frozen in 2018 at the new rates.
“Generally, my position since I’ve been here has been to keep tuition as low as possible, specifically because I think affordability is one of the hallmarks of a community college,” President Dr. Joe Schaffer said.
“But there are times when tuition increases are necessary and going through major budget reductions as we did this fall and certainly the year before. To not have to go deeper and cut more services or cut academic programs, it makes sense to see the tuition go up,” Schaffer said.
Wyoming is one of the most affordable states to get an education, especially since Wyoming community colleges “are still competitively priced and really one of the best deals in the United States,” Schaffer said. “To avoid to have to cut deeper or reduce those services, this is one of those times where I actually support a tuition increase.”
Schaffer said he would like to see the tuition-setting process with the state-budget process. “From my perspective, when we set tuition, we want to consider all of the revenue sources first and then consider what is left that needs to be made up by tuition,” Schaffer said.
This means that LCCC has to look at both local and state funding. Local funding is based off of property values, “which is more stable for the most part but also sometimes harder to get at, but we have a pretty good sense each summer what the property evaluation is going to be,” Schaffer said.
“Then the Legislature convenes in the winter time and as we went into this current fiscal year, when the budget was set, my position was that tuition should be set to match those two years and should not change over those two years,” Schaffer said.
As state-funding continued to be a challenge, the commission decided something needed to be done.
“The colleges were really concerned with the cost of tuition with students. We know there are challenges economically, but there was an agreement with the colleges that we leave tuition at $89 a credit hour this academic year,” Dr. Jim Rose said. Rose is the executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission.
“We then had a budget hearing with the Legislature that gave us more caution of what was coming,” Rose said.
The commission wanted to take small steps as it has in the past, so a five percent tuition increase was adopted, Rose said.
WUE students have to pay at least 150 percent of the in-state rate and out-of-state residents have to pay at least 300 percent of the in-state rate.
“It was a moderate, rational decision. These are not like times five years ago,” Rose said.