The rate at which tuition and fees are being raised at state universities and colleges has been a continued source of irritation. When lawmakers gave the universities permission to raise tuition 30 percent over a two-year period we were -- and continue to be -- outraged.
Our concern is escalating tuition will price students from middle-class families out of higher education. The decisions on raising tuition and fees appear to be made in a vacuum -- or, perhaps, an ivory tower.
But the hikes approved at Walla Walla Community College seem reasonable. The fee and tuition hikes are targeted and not nearly as onerous as those at the four-year schools.
The increases are expected to generate more than $500,000 a year that will be used to help offset the loss of $3 million in state subsidy over the past two years. WWCC is looking at another 6 percent state reduction in 2011.
Most of the new money will come from the fee assessed to students pay per credit. The $1 per credit fee -- up to 10 credits.-- will be increased to $5 next spring. That's expected to generate $360,000 a year.
Full-time out-of-state students -- mainly those from Idaho and Oregon -- will see a modest increase in tuition. Idaho students will be charged $300 a quarter, compared to $251 currently. Oregon students will pay $410 per quarter, up from $384. This is still much lower than usual out-of-state tuition. The college gives a tuition break as part of a reciprocal agreement to students from neighboring states.
The targeted fee increases are aimed at programs that are in demand and should yield well-paying jobs to graduates. Students in the college's new Wind Energy Systems program will have to pay a $1,000 fee, which will be assessed over the two years of the program.
In addition, WWCC plans to have a financial aid fund of $100,000 to help students who can't afford college without it.
Higher tuition and fees are never pleasant.
But colleges and universities, if they are to serve their students, need money.
WWCC's plan to supplement state funding is solid. The cost of a college education at the community college remains a bargain.
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