Monday, May 23, 2011

Community College Cost Rising; Remains a Bargain

Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke.^

Even with a newly-approved hefty increase in the price of tuition at Virginia's community colleges, the overall impact on the family budget remains low when compared to tuition at four-year institutions in the Commonwealth.

The State Board for Community Colleges established the 2011-2012 in-state tuition and mandatory fee rate at $119 per credit hour, an additional $9.50 per credit hour beginning in the fall. That equates to an increase of $28.50 per three-hour class, or $285 for the year for a full-time in-state student.

Because of some General Fund investments that proved successful, General Fund cuts Virginia’s Community Colleges have since 2008 have been reassessed from $105 million to $95 million. During that same time, Virginia’s Community Colleges have enrolled an additional 48,000 students.

The tuition increase is 8.7 percent. Says Jeffery K. Mitchell, chairman of the board’s budget and finance committee, "The budget cuts and enrollment growth our community colleges have seen are unprecedented.”

“This tuition rate positions Virginia’s Community Colleges to balance the critical demands of affordability and accessibility,” says Nathaniel X. Marshall, chairman of the State Board.

State financial aid for community colleges was increased by $5.4 million, a 20 percent increase

Tuition and fees at Virginia’s Community Colleges are just over one-third (37 percent) of the comparable average tuition and fees charged by public four-year institutions. As a percentage of Virginia’s per capita disposable income Virginia’s four-year institution tuition and fees were estimated to be 41.6 percent of disposable personal income and for community colleges 8.1 percent.

(Photo: SFCS architecture firm.)

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