Raising the stakes

Community colleges boost tuition prices

By Elizabeth Casella
Staff Writer

Community college students across Michigan are all facing the same problem of rising tuition prices. Over the past few years in Michigan, colleges have been forced to increase prices for several reasons, such as rising cost in materials, inflation, hikes in enrollment and cuts in state and local funding. Schools in suburban Detroit, such as Schoolcraft College, Oakland Community College (OCC), Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) and Macomb County Community College (MCCC), have been some of the hardest hit due to the higher state funding they once received.

“The Board of Trustees approved tuition increases for this coming school year of $3 for in-district, $4 for out-of-district, $6 for out-of-state and $6 for international respectively,” said Beth LaForest, Schoolcraft’s Financial Managing, Financial Business Services Planning and Technology Coordinator.

residentNONresidentSchoolcraft has not had to make as drastic increases as other schools. Tuition has increased only slightly over the past few years. In 2010, Schoolcraft had a resident tuition of $80 per a credit hour, and now in 2015, it is $93 per a credit hour.

“I think many colleges raise prices because of the lack of state funding for many programs and also because the college wants to keep expanding and growing their programs. They need money to do that,” said Schoolcraft student Nicholas Dean.

According to a House Fiscal Agency analysis, in Michigan over the past ten years, at least 60 percent of funding increases can be attributed to state funding decreases, and 63 percent of school budgets are used to pay salaries and employee benefits. The need for more staff is attributed to the increase in enrollment, which causes a need for more funding to pay staff. One of the only resources that can be raised is tuition.

OCC had to find funding from other sources, such as tuition rates and state grants, but the school underwent reviews to implement cost-cutting measures to try to lower rates in coming years.

Charles Thomas, the Interim Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance at Oakland Community College, said, “OCC has had to consistently increase its tuition by seven percent for in-district students and eleven percent for out-district students for the past three years.”

Similarly, MCCC also made increases in tuition in addition to seeking federal grants, according to the world socialist website.

One of the colleges impacted hardest with economic crisis was WCCCD. They have raised prices by 16 percent from 2014 to 2015, which adds up to a whopping $79 per a credit hour. The school has also had to turn away students wishing to enroll due to reaching enrollment capacity every year the past five years, according to WCCC enrollment officers and world socialist website statistics.

Janice Ahadj the Chancellor of research at Wayne County Community College District, said, “WCCCD has had to make cuts and finds funding from other areas such as state grants like many schools. WCCCD is trying to find the most cost effective ways to run the school to keep tuition as low as possible, while still improving the school in ways such as staff and academic resources.”

Overall, MCCC and WCCCD have had to make the largest increases to resident and non-resident tuition over the past ten years. Students can expect more increases because Michigan continues to cut the state budget, and rising costs, such as inflation, will need to go down more for prices to level out.