Tuition at community colleges on the rise

Students at the state’s two–year colleges need to prepare for a heftier bill come this spring.

The State Board of Education authorized an increase in the cost of credit hours Oct. 22 from $71 to $85, which will take affect next semester.

Interim Chancellor Joan Y. Davis said the system is facing the best and worst of times.

“On the one hand, we have record enrollment throughout the system,” Davis said. “On the other hand, that record enrollment is straining already tight budgets and resources at our colleges.”

Jefferson State Community College spokesperson David Bobo said he believes the increase was inevitable. Two–year colleges have not raised tuition since 2004.

“In that time, think of what has occurred –– we’ve gone through a down economy and proration,” Bobo said. “There comes a point where offering a quality education is put in jeopardy by a lack of funds.”

The state’s plan calls for tuition to increase again in the fall of 2010 to $90 per credit hour. The tuition adjustment will produce approximately $21,521,535 in additional revenue in its first year. Tuition would then increase by 2 percent each following year. Student fees will not increase.

Student Ambassador Robbie Stanford said most students are frustrated with the increase.

“Most students are pretty upset about it because most don’t see the reasoning behind it,” Stanford said. “On the other hand, many of us know we kind of need it to keep good professors here. I would prefer not to have to pay more, but I get it.”

Tuition at community colleges remains at least 41 percent less than Alabama’s public universities.