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RCC to bump tuition by $5 a credit

Still, it's a 'great education for a bargain price,' says one student

Students at Rogue Community College will pay an extra &

36;5 per credit starting this summer.

The RCC board has approved increasing tuition 8.5 percent, from &

36;59 to &

36;64 a credit. Tuition for out-of-state students would increase &

36;6 per credit to &

36;77. The increase would add &

36;60 to &

36;75 a quarter to most full-time students' bills, officials said.

People are disappointed that it has to go up at all, but you have to look at both sides, said Teddy Walston, 24, who is studying sociology and psychology in anticipation of transferring to a four-year university. Comparatively, this is a great education for a bargain price.

Tuition at RCC has held steady at &

36;59 a credit for the past three years, school officials reported.

The last increase of more than 20 percent, from &

36;49 to &

36;59 per credit in 2003, prompted an enrollment decline of nearly 10 percent in full-time-equivalent students. Last year, officials proposed a &

36;4 per credit tuition increase, but opted to keep fees the same in an effort to remain affordable and accessible, officials said.

— A press release said that this year's increase was needed because the college faces a &

36;2.7 million budget shortfall in the coming year. The budget gap results from a reduction in state funding for community colleges and an enrollment decline that will shrink RCC's share of the money, said Lynda Warren, RCC's executive dean of college services and chief financial officer.

Last summer, the Oregon Legislature approved &

36;428 million for community colleges, less than the &

36;440 million college presidents said was needed to avoid tuition hikes and program cuts.

The state's formula for allocating money to colleges is based on the three-year rolling average enrollment of full-time-equivalent students, so RCC's past declines still influence its funding, officials said.

In the release, Warren explained the tuition increase will generate about &

36;600,000, or about 20 percent of the anticipated shortfall.

The board also approved a &

36;50 fee to offset costs of a computer-proficiency exam and a &

36;50 fee to cover nursing program applications.

Two committees of staff and students continue to work on ways to reduce expenses and increase revenues, said Margaret Bradford, RCC's director of community relations.

Officials will propose a budget next month. To save money, they are considering program changes, staff reassignments and spending limits on materials and supplies, Bradford said. To increase revenue, they are looking at entrepreneurial ideas such as selling enrollment and registration software the school has developed to other colleges.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail RCC to bump tuition by $5 a credit"aburke@mailtribune.com.