Maricopa County Community College District in Arizona is looking at cutting back on its tuition rate in the upcoming school year for its 10 colleges. The rates have stayed the same for the last two years at $86 for every credit hour, The Arizona Republic reported. That’s a break from the current trend of rising tuition costs – with an average tuition increase of 6.9 percent for two-year schools in 2017-2018.
How Much Will the Reduction Be?
Elliott Hibbs, the district’s chief operating officer, has suggested a $1 reduction in fees per credit hour. But the reduction may be bigger than that.
According to Laurin Hendrix, the board president, the college district might consider cutting back the credit hour fee by $5 per hour or more. That won’t be decided, however, until the annual budget vote, which takes place in May.
“I think the direction of the majority of the current board is to make education as inexpensive as possible, and that’s what we’re doing,” Hendrix told the Republic.
If a student was committed to 15 credit hours every semester, a decrease of $5 per credit hour could save them $75 per semester. That might not seem like a lot, but over the course of four semesters, it adds up to $300. That’s a nice savings, especially if scholarships and grants are added to it.
Despite the planned decrease in tuition rates, the district is also eyeing increasing the salaries of its adjunct faculty by 6 percent, to $925, per credit hour.
Do Tuition Reductions Happen Often?
As some might suspect, tuition reductions don’t happen very often. The universities that do tend to reduce their rates are generally smaller private colleges. Only approximately 40 out of 1,200 private universities or colleges have decreased their tuition during the past 20 years, economist Lucie Lapovsky told the Republic.
Although it hasn’t been a trend over the years, it might be picking up steam. Additional colleges may be considering it in the near future, especially if it boosts enrollment numbers.
Some public universities haven’t had a say in the matter – their tuition reductions have been mandated by state law. Because some public colleges increased their tuition dramatically during the Great Recession, which began in 2007 and ended in 2009, states have mandated the cuts.
Some of the cuts have been solely targeted at community colleges instead of four-year public schools. In Minnesota, for instance, community colleges were required to cut 1 percent off their tuition rates while four-year public colleges were allowed to charge more.
In the state of Washington in 2015, the state required four-year universities cut their tuition by a minimum of 15 percent over a two-year time period. Community colleges were required to cut their rates by 5 percent during that same time frame. That was mandated after consecutive years of percentage increases that reached double digits each year.
The cuts at Maricopa County Community College District, however, weren’t mandated by the state.
Because college enrollments have decreased in the past few years, tuition reductions and freezing have become more popular. Several schools have frozen or reduced rates in recent years, including Mills College in California, Sweet Briar in Virginia, Drew University in New Jersey, and Purdue University.
Author: Mike Brown
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