By Jacquelyn Zeman – Chief Web Editor
The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees approved a 1.9 percent tuition increase for general courses and a tiered tuition system for new students in nursing, dental and culinary programs beginning in the fall.
Classes at GRCC will be increasing from $106 to $108 per credit hour. Classes in the nursing program will be going up to $178 per credit hour, and classes in the culinary and dental programs will increase to $140 per credit hour.
The increase was made in order to make up for GRCC’s ongoing financial deficit.
Students already in the nursing, dental and culinary programs will be grandfathered in and pay $108 per credit hour, and the new tuition rate will not apply to them. New students to these programs starting in the fall of 2015 will have to pay the new tiered tuition rate.
The tiered tuition plan is coming out of an ad-hoc budget committee’s recommendations, which began planning the increases in August of 2014.
Provost Laurie Chesley and Vice President of Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger served as co-chairs of the ad-hoc budget committee. The goal of the committee was to come up with a way to make up for the financial deficit. This was done by making cuts between $2 million and $5 million at GRCC.
According to Freiburger, the team analyzed and benchmarked with colleges in the state, and looked at “a number of different options” before coming to the conclusion of raising tuition as a whole, and tiered tuition for those specific programs.
“Based on current enrollment…without factoring in any change to enrollment for next year…that increase (in revenue) would be $775,000,” Freiburger said. “I certainly cannot tell you that there will be absolutely no impact on enrollment.”
Trustee member, Dr. Richard Ryskamp added that he would “not expect us to have any enrollment problems” with the nursing program, considering the long waiting list for that particular program.
Although there is a waiting list for nursing, there is currently no wait to get into GRCC’s dental or culinary programs.
Richard Stewart was the only board member who did not vote for raising tuition and chose to abstain.
“We have to think of our economic environment, we have to think of the people,” Stewart said. “This puts me in a tough position to vote…I want to be an advocate for my neighbors…we want them to be able to have the same opportunity to attend this wonderful college.”
Ryskamp said that to him raising tuition is “a matter of simple mathematics.”
“We have had a fairly substantial enrollment problem over the last several years,” Ryskamp said. “Especially the last two years. It’s not the college’s fault, this is a national trend…tuition increase is inevitable.”
Trustee member Deb Bailey said she understands the circumstances with having to raise tuition.
“I am pleased that you were able to get (it down) to 1.9 percent,” Bailey said. “It is regrettable, but totally understandable.”