Take time to raise tuition, trustees

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Matching tuition to operation costs is risky and not supportive of students.

A proposed tuition increase has been put on hold by the board of trustees with the exception of four programs.

The trustees unanimously voted to postpone the increase, slated for the fall semester, to thoroughly vet concerns about discouraging full-time students.

This is a good decision. Making education harder for students to access should not be taken lightly.

Higher tuition means lower-income students will have to work more to afford classes, which means fewer students will take a full-time course load.

Already, most students enroll in school part-time to be able to work to support themselves and their families. The days of financial aid paying for school, books and living expenses are gone.

Students are lucky to get tuition covered.

The proposal as it stood even made part-time enrollment less appealing.

A breakdown of tuition to individual credit hours means students won’t have incentive beyond their own ambitions to take more than one class a semester.

Under the current system, a student pays for six hours even if they enroll in only three, but the incentive is there to enroll in two courses.

This means faster program completion. On the other hand, it will certainly be less expensive.

During a special board meeting March 28, the trustees voted to increase tuition for nursing and fire science at this college and Northwest Vista College’s digital media and digital video and cinema production.

Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said this is to offset increasing costs to run these programs.

This especially hits hard for fire science, which is seeing a $500 increase, almost double the $600 students are currently paying. Snyder says the increase will include the cost of uniforms and other equipment this semester’s students have to purchase separately.

This sounds like a good plan on the surface, but will all departments start having separate tuition based on operation costs?

Will biology, with its lab equipment and experiments, cost more than an English literature class?

Will art students’ pencils, charcoal, paint, paper, clay, canvas, ink — the list goes on — be provided with the payment of tuition? A higher tuition, no doubt.

Singling out programs based on cost is risky. Students could be dissuaded from enrolling in more expensive programs in spite of aspirations, and even deterred from enrolling altogether, creating even fewer full-time students.

The trustees have a lot to think about, and thankfully, they don’t have the same sense of urgency as Snyder to implement the full proposal by next semester.

Take all the time needed.


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