South Puget Sound Community College students, faculty and staff await the June 8 results of tuition rate increases from the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).
Students of the state’s community and technical college system gave testimonies at the March SBCTC meeting speaking against high tuition rate increases. Students said tuition prices were already high, and they could not afford to pay any more for their education.
Tuition hikes do not increase at the same rate for all students regardless of the number of credits they are taking. Tuition rates can increase annually statewide in community and technical colleges up to 12 percent on average per credit load. The exact increase in rates for part time and full time students occurs at the college level.
“We’re still working at equalizing those credit rates,” said Vice President for Administrative Services Nancy Mckinney. Tuition increases at the same rate would “have a negative effect on full time students.”
While tuition increases can inconvenience students, the rate impacts the school’s total revenue as well. Before the SBCTC passes a budget on June 8, a committee from SPSCC will meet to discuss possible changes in revenue and to create a prioritized list of the college’s expenditures.
The state made no cuts to Financial Aid, Work Study, the State Need program, or the Running Start program as part of the new operating budget passed by the state.
SPSCC President Gerald Pumphrey spoke with satisfaction about the final state budget. According to Pumphrey, “We can at least maintain our approximate, current level of educational programs and services”.
The new capital budget will grant $15 million to be distributed among the 34 community and technical colleges in the state.
Five schools in the system will have large-scale projects funded by this money from the capital budget. Capital budget money recently funded the renovation of Building 22 at SPSCC in order to update the facility, and now other colleges in the system will get the chance to undergo larger projects for school improvement.
SPSCC will only receive money from the capital budget in order to purchase new equipment for certain specialized programs.
“The new equipment we are likely to get for welding, computerized machining, nursing, dental assisting, and chemistry, will be very beneficial for the students in those programs,” said Pumphrey.
According to Mckinney, equipment for these programs can cost a lot, and the college takes advantage of money from the capital budget for purchases for these courses when they can.
Another aspect of the newly passed Washington State budget was Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) enrollments. Within the boundaries of current funds, the SBCTC must dedicate 2 million dollars to increase student participation in these types of programs.
According to Mckinney, administration at SPSCC needs to “re-deploy our resources.”
The State Board will present its proposal to the state legislature for the use of money to boost STEM enrollments by June 30.