Tuition hike for Maricopa County community colleges on the table

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PHOENIX – The governing board that oversees the Maricopa County Community College District is slated to consider a tuition hike when it meets Tuesday evening.

Anticipating major funding cuts by the state, the board is looking at a 7 percent increase, which works out to $5 to credit hour. That means the price per credit hour would go from $71 to $76. A full-time student take 30 credits per year would pay $2,280 in tuition, up from $2,130.

The first tuition increase since 2008, the proposed hike would generate about $12.5 million.

A budget plan drafted by majority Republicans and approved by the Senate last week including deep spending cuts to education, among other public services. The approved plan is similar to Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget proposal, which slashes state funding for MCCCD from $45.3 million to just $6.9 million. That’s a cut of 85 percent.

The bulk of MCCCD’s budget comes from tuition and local taxes, but such a massive cut in state money has left the district looking for ways to make up the difference.

In addition to the tuition increase, the governing board will also look at hundreds of changes in class fees. Nearly 450 new or increased fees are on the agenda, along with 121 reduced or eliminated fees.

Students are dismayed at the prospect of a tuition hike, but many are still determined to continue their educations.

“That’s just so much more work I’m going to have to do to pay for school,” one student told 3TV’s Bruce Haffner. “I’m already trying to work full time and go to school full time.”

The proposed budget for 2011-’12 will also be released at the meeting. At $1.4 billion, the preliminary budget is a 13 percent decrease from 2010-’11, and includes nearly $11.5 million in revenue generated by a 3 percent increase in property taxes. The board will not address the tax increase or the new budget until June. Last year, the board considered and rejected a property-tax increase.

MCCCD is made up of 10 community colleges -- Chandler, Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale, and South Mountain.

The governing board meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor governing-board room of the district office, which is located at 2411 W. 14th St., Tempe.