Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuition rates to increase Fall 2011

Lindsey Treffry | The Communicator  

Beginning in 2012, tuition will cost CCS students at least $315 more per year.

Given the 14.6 to 16.4 percent reduction in state funding, CCS administrators have already taken other measures to balance the district’s cost of operation. These include employee reductions and a plan to raise student fees.
In her recent budget, Gov. Christine Gregoire proposed a reduction of the state’s portion of higher education spending. The state senate and house budgets echoed these cuts. The tuition hike will save the state $344.7 million, according to the Senate budget released April 12.

According to Greg Stevens, CCS Chief Administration Officer and acting Chief Financial Officer, CCS has already taken a 23 percent cut in its state operating budget since 2007, not including the additional cuts outlined in the new budget proposals. These previous cuts resulted in reductions to travel, training, goods, and supplies.

“All our budget fat is gone,” Stevens said.


According to Stevens, the easy cuts have been made. Now CCS is left with difficult decisions: those that impact people directly.

The released budgets loosely agree on a 3 percent cut in compensation (employee salaries). According to Stevens, CCS has already begun laying off classified employees, faculty, and administrative personnel. The number of employees to be cut or redistributed through the district is unknown.

According to CCS’ response to the September 2010 SBCTC Budget Reduction Survey, in a plan for a potential 10 percent cut in the 2012 fiscal year, approximately 17 staff positions would be laid off. An additional $500,000 in further personnel-related reductions were “to be determined.”

“We are trying to be as empathetic and sympathetic as we can,” Stevens said. “By starting early, we’ve been able to find other spots in the district for every employee, with the exception of one [employee].”


The 10 to 12 percent increase in tuition will amount to $315 to $375 a year, respectively, for a 15-credit student. Not all tuition is going to pay for teacher salaries and electricity, though. Three percent of this increase will fund a statewide enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementationessentially an updated IT computer system.

Additionally, excess tuition will likely be captured to fund state needs grants given to students. According to accounting and economics instructor, and SFCC Association for High Education Vice President, Don Brunner, students’ tuition is going up to fund the grants that students receive.

Tuition only pays for about one-third of a student’s college education, according to Brunner.

“[The students] think the college has more [money],” Brunner said.

According to Stevens, Washington technical and community colleges are subsidized differently than universities. For example, if Washington State University (WSU) were to have a 12 percent cut, they are granted the authority to raise tuition by 12 percent. At CCS, a 1 percent budget reduction requires a nearly 2.5 percent tuition increase to offset it because, unlike a university, all tuition funds do not go directly towards a budget deficit. Despite this fact, Stevens said tuition will not be raised more than the legislature proposed.

According to Stevens, with a 10 percent tuition increase and a 12 percent budget reduction, there is still an 8 percent gap.

Part of the gap may be filled by a raise in student fees.

“[CSS has] local authority over [student] fees,” Stevens said. “The Board has always held [the fees] to cost of living adjustments.”

According to Stevens, historically CSS’ Board of Trustees has not raised fees to the maximum amount allowed by statute.


On April 19, CCS Chancellor Christine Johnson led a strategic planning and budget forum. At this meeting, Johnson shared the projected cuts that are to be made and where some of the state money will be redistributed.

SFCC President Pam Praeger also discussed a savings fund that is available to the college. This fund is much like a contingency or “rainy day” fund that may be used upon request from the Board. The enrollment for 2011 was over target by 17.5 percent, so other revenue may come from excess tuition and additional Running Start students.

“Many states are saying colleges are now state-located, but not [state-] supported,” Johnson said. “Colleges are entrepreneurs and have to ask ‘How else can we generate revenue?’.”

Some federal budget projections, from the fiscal year 2012 budget, include a reduction of Perkins funds and the rate per student for Pell grants, according to Johnson. According to Stevens though, there are some increases in other financial aid, like state need grant funds.

“[Financial aid increases] will help needier students,” Stevens said. “But it will put a squeeze on people who don’t qualify.”

CCS budget specifics cannot be decided until Gov. Gregoire, the state senate and house come to an agreement and finalize the budget. The CCS budget will be presented to the Board for approval in June.

“Tuition and fee increases are a last-resort option,” Stevens said. “We want education to be affordable.

“We’re trying to do everything we can.”

To find a detailed report of the meetings and budget drafts formed by the CCS Strategic Planning committee, visit

As seen in issue 42.9 of The Communicator.

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