A 2.8 percent increase in tuition was approved at Grand Rapids Community College’s Board of Trustees meeting today in a 6-1 vote.
According to Vice President of Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger, the changes will include a $3 increase on basic tuition cost, moving the current cost of $108 per contact hour, to $111.
For students taking 12 credits a semester, this would be a $36 increase per semester and a $72 increase per year.
Non-resident tuition will increase by $6 per contact hour and out-of-state tuition by $9 per contact hour. Differential dual-enrollment, job training, construction trades and preschool will also be scaled with the 2.8 percent increase.
The tuition raise will take effect this fall.
“It is a tough decision,” Freiburger said. “We are very mindful of the impact on students and we do our very best to balance that impact with making sure that we’re continuing to offer quality programs.”
Freiburger said the college is looking at eliminating positions to reduce costs as well.
The only trustee to oppose the raise in tuition was Richard Stewart, who addressed middle class and lower income families.
“Like the college, this group is also experiencing rising costs,” Stewart said. “We as a college have a recourse open to us to balance our budget. Consider this, what recourse is open to these folks to meet their rising surge of expense? I could submit to you the nutshell, they have none.”
Even though he disagreed with the raise in tuition, Stewart still acknowledged GRCC as “a fantastic bargain for a top notch education.”
Trustee Ellen James recognized the GRCC Foundation awarding of scholarships annually as one of her reasons to approve the tuition increase.
“Our foundation has really stepped up its game,” James said. “We’re doing some innovative things that we have not done before in terms of helping our students when they’re in trouble.”
According to Kathryn Mullins, executive director of the GRCC Foundation, $617,552.06 was distributed to 572 students for the 2015-16 academic year.
GRCC student Anna Hughes said she thinks GRCC makes enough money and that there is an existing population of students who have a hard time affording the current tuition prices.
“I struggle with paying for school as is and, even though it’s just $3, it’s still money for people who can’t pay for it,” said Hughes, 20, of Grand Rapids.
*Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 12:17 p.m. March 23.