Rates won’t rise at 2-year colleges

OLYMPIA – Community college students received official word Friday they won’t be paying higher tuition this fall.

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges voted in the morning to freeze rates for resident and nonresident students. It will be the first time since 1989 that tuition will not rise at any of the state’s two-year colleges.

“Congratulations everyone. History has been made,” said board chairwoman Beth Willis following the decision. “This is very big. What a boon for our students.”

Lawmakers, as part of last month’s agreement on a new two-year state budget, pumped roughly $40 million more into Washington’s two-year college system and barred tuition from climbing this fall for students who are residents of Washington.

But they left the door open for increasing the price for out-of-state students who already pay more than twice as much as resident students at each of the 34 colleges.

Over the years any tuition increase on resident students triggered an increase for nonresident enrollees. Board members decided Friday they could be consistent with that practice by freezing rates for everyone.

It means tuition will remain at $4,000 per year for resident students and $9,235 for nonresident students in the 2013-14 academic year. Those figures are based on a 15-credit load for a full school year.

“Everett Community College supports the state board’s decision not to increase tuition for nonresident students to ensure our state remains competitive in attracting international students,” EvCC President David Beyer said. “We’re also grateful for the Legislature’s decision to increase state support for higher education that led to no tuition increases for Washington state students.”

Carol Summers, vice president for College Relations and Advancement at Edmonds Community College, felt the same way.

“Increasing funding for higher education while at the same time holding down tuition costs is a great outcome for both Edmonds CC and our students,” she said.

“Clearly the Legislature understands the importance of community colleges,” she said. “They also heard the concerns of students who are struggling to afford their college educations.”

Of the 19,530 students who attended EvCC in the 2012 school year, 1,108 were nonresidents. Edmonds Community College reported 2,088 nonresident students out of 20,305.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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