Despite Enrollment Losses, Inflation, Community Colleges Offer Little To No Tuition Increase – Oregon Capital Chronicle


Oregon’s 17 community colleges have pledged to keep tuition low next year in the face of rising costs from inflation and declining enrollment.

Four community colleges are planning no tuition increases, including Portland Community College, the state’s largest by enrollment.

At most other community colleges, tuition will increase no more than a few dollars per credit hour, with the maximum increase being $8.50 per credit hour, at Lane Community College in Eugene.

Tuition increases have been proposed or agreed to at Oregon’s seven public four-year universities, adding between $475 per year and more than $700 per year to tuition.

Depending on the college, between one-third and one-half of Oregon’s community college funding comes from tuition, according to the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. The rest comes from state grants and local property taxes.

From the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year, the community college enrollment has plummeted by 23%. In 2021, registrations fell by about 1%, a sign that the effects of the pandemic on registrations may be fading.
Overall, community colleges enroll 60,000 fewer students today than a decade ago, a 40% drop as Oregon’s population grew.

Where tuition will go up a few dollars

In-state tuition at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Tillamook Bay Community College in Tillamook, and Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham will increase by just $2 per credit hour, or about $24 per semester for a full-time student. Full-time is defined as 12 credit hours per semester.

At Mt. Hood, tuition for out-of-state students will increase by $4 per credit hour, but these students represent less than 1% of total enrollment. Tuition for in-state residents at Mt. Hood has increased 34 percent over the past nine years, according to the university’s website. Students will pay $465 more per semester this fall than students who enrolled in fall 2013.

Ross Tomlin, president of Tillamook Bay Community College, said of their increases, “Our board believes it is better to make small increases each year than to wait several years and have to make a much larger increase. All costs are increasing and we try to keep up with the cost increase without overburdening the students too much. »

At Southwestern Community College in Coos Bay and Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, each credit hour will cost an additional $3. At Treasure Valley, the increase is a response to rising costs for utilities, insurance and other expenses, according to Abby Lee, public information officer for the college.

In Bend, Central Oregon Community College will increase tuition by $4 per credit hour for Oregon residents. Last year, the college kept tuition flat and eliminated online course fees for students. Laurie Chesley, president of the university, said in a statement that “rising costs associated with inflation and the economy affected by Covid, as well as ensuring that our employees are fairly compensated, have necessitated a slight increase. tuition”.

Where tuition will increase by $5 per credit hour or more

Umpqua Community College in Roseburg will raise tuition by $5 per credit hour to bring a semester of full-time tuition to $1,380 for Oregon residents. That’s an increase of about $60 per semester.

The nearly 5% increase is still well below the 8.5% inflation recorded nationally, said Suzi Pritchard, director of communications for the college.

“We will always remain one of the lowest tuition in the state,” Pritchard said.

Umpqua will also introduce a new plan to lock in first-year tuition for students, so they pay the same price over three years as they did in their first year.

Tuition at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany has also increased by about $5 per credit hour. At Linn-Benton, students have expressed that they would rather have a small increase each year rather than a larger one the next to make up for lost ground, according to Jennifer Boehmer, executive director for institutional advancement.

Clackamas Community College in Oregon City and Chemeketa Community College in Salem will each increase tuition by $6 per credit hour. At Chemeketa, the increase is due to rising and inflating operating costs and declining enrollment, according to Aaron Hunter, the college’s chief financial officer.

The largest increase would be for Lane Community College in Eugene, which is awaiting board approval to increase tuition by an additional $8.50 per credit hour, which includes an increase in tuition fees. technology per credit hour.

According to an email from Margaret Hamilton, the college president.

Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles did not respond to calls or emails requesting information.

Klamath Community College in Klamath Falls will decide in May to raise tuition.

Where Tuition Fees Won’t Rise

Tuition will remain unchanged at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, Portland Community College and Oregon Coast Community College in Newport. This is the second year in a row that the Oregon Coast has left tuition unchanged.

School president Brigitte Ryslinge said in an email that the decision to do so “makes a difficult budget scenario even more difficult, but our board and college administration have agreed that if we can manage a another year by making it easier for students to access, it was the right thing to do.”

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