Legislative funds keep RCC costs from rising

Tuition and fees will remain flat at Rogue Community College next year following a small allocation boost from the Oregon Legislature.

RCC is receiving $763,000 of $15 million awarded to the Community College Support Fund as part of a "grand bargain" bill package passed by the Legislature last fall.

In total, RCC will receive about $8.3 million from the state next year, up about a million from the current year.

School officials hope the increase will be permanent.

"We have been under the assumption these additional funds would continue into the future," said Lisa Stanton, chief financial officer at RCC. "However, the state has not made a formal commitment."

RCC President Peter Angstadt said that while the increase was appreciated, the college would need more funding to move forward with ambitious state graduation goals set by Gov. John Kitzhaber.

"While this increase was welcomed and very much appreciated, it still does not restore the CCSF to its 2008 funding level, leaving colleges without sufficient resources," said Angstadt, in a press release.

Angstadt said colleges are feeling pressure to conform to Kitzhaber's 40-40-20 goal, which asks public schools, colleges and university to meet numerical graduation goals by 2025.

The goal by that year is to have 40 percent of Oregonians earn a bachelor's degree or higher, 40 percent earn an associate's degree or other post-secondary credential and the remaining 20 percent to graduate from high school.

Angstadt said the extra funding is not enough to ensure RCC could continue to advance toward the 40-40-20 goal, but it is enough to offset declining enrollment and an increase in expenses over the last year.

Over the last few years, RCC has faced declining enrollment of full-time students, while expenses for personnel and materials have slightly increased, RCC officials said.

Without a tuition increase, Oregon residents will continue to pay $91 per credit for tuition at RCC, and out-of-state students will pay $111. Students also pay some fees each term.

The school's tuition rates are on par with other community colleges across the state. Central Oregon Community College in Bend charges $87 per credit, Oregon Coast Community College charges $99 per credit and Portland Community College charges $88 per credit.

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at teresa.ristow@gmail.com.

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