Community College Tuitions Expected To Rise With Increased Enrollment

By Staff

February 12, 2009

Community colleges expect to have to increase tuition as the jobless seek new skills and states decrease financial aid.

In Des Moines, Iowa, the WCF Courier quotes Judy Jeffrey, director of the state Department of Education, who noted that enrollment at community colleges is expected to rise as more laid-off workers seek to retrain themselves for new jobs.

In addition, she said that a record number of 31,450 high school students were jointly enrolled in community college credit course work during the 2007-8 school year, reflecting students' desire to complete their higher education quickly.

"A shortened time-to-degree results in graduates entering the workforce sooner and saving money for state and Iowa families," Jeffrey explained.

KXLY [from an article originally located at] in Spokane, Washington, reports that community college school officials predict that they will soon be teaching thousands of students above the number supported by the state budget.

Increased enrollment at the Community Colleges of Spokane reflects the trend being seen throughout the country. School officials report that student enrollment is up 6 percent from last year to 18,500.

"What we're seeing is people who've retired, because of the economy, coming back and knowing that they can't get a job with [their] present skill set," explained CCOS Chancellor Dr. Gary Livingston, in an interview with KXLY. "Coming back looking for a way to re-enter the workforce really is across the board, and the economy is the driver right now."

But school officials are expecting a difficult road ahead as states trim education budgets. In Iowa, Gov. Chet Culver has proposed a 6.5 percent cut for fiscal year 2010, beginning July 1. And CCOS has just cut $2.6 million from the college's 2009 budget.

In Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week asked community colleges and state universities to freeze tuition for the next academic year in her State of the State address. But Michigan's The News Herald reports that school officials simply have no choice.

Community colleges are "close to the bottom in terms of what we charge for tuition," said Curtis Ivery, Wayne County Community College District chancellor. With state cuts and loss of property tax revenue, raising tuition is the sole option for colleges who need to increase funds.

"There's a crisis coming," Livingstone predicted. "We're really going to face some tough decisions during the spring about what we're going to do next year."

Jeffrey agrees. "It's going to be tough," she said.

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