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Tuition rises at community colleges

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Community college students across the state are going to have to come up with some extra cash to attend school this fall.
The final draft of the state budget calls for a $10 per credit hour increase in community college tuition.
In-state students will now pay $66.50 per credit hour and out-of-state students will pay $248.50.
Full-time students — those who take at least 12 credit hours — will see an increase of at least $120 per semester.
“Every increase in tuition makes it harder for our students to get the training they need,” said Kimberly Greene, the college’s Student Government Association president. “But RCCC is still the most affordable option to get quality training and education.”
Dr. Carol Spalding, the college’s president, said the tuition hike will pose a challenge,
“But we’re grateful to not have the increases be even larger,” she said. “We believe we can continue to do the work that we do best and provide education and training to thousands of students this next year.”
Greene said though “every increase hurts students” she’s confident students can find ways to continue financing their education by obtaining scholarships, grants and loans.
Paula Dibley, the college’s public information officer, said the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation will be ramping up its fundraising efforts to provide scholarships.
“With this increase it does make things like the RCC Foundation and its works on getting scholarships for our students all that more important for us because we need to find ways to help our students,” she said.
Despite the spike in tuition, Rowan-Cabarrus will be facing a $1.3 million shortfall in state funding next year.
“Here at RCCC we fully understand the difficult economic situation and the resulting budget struggles,” Spalding said. “We are certainly not immune to those challenges and have continued to do more with less over the last few years, given our record enrollment.”
Student enrollment grew nearly 4.6 percent this fall, with the total student headcount exceeding 7,300 this year.
College officials have yet to decide where the $1.3 million will be trimmed.
The college has dealt with deficits in the past by hiring adjunct rather than full-time faculty members and straying away from commitments to long-term projects.
But the decrease in state funding is less severe than originally anticipated.
“Our hard work to serve the Rowan and Cabarrus communities has thankfully not gone unnoticed in the North Carolina budget passed this week,” Spalding said. “Our 52 percent growth over the last four years has helped bring in some additional state support.”
The college’s Cabarrus Business and Technology Center and Cloverleaf Center will be funded this year after a two year wait.
“I want to thank our legislators for fighting for the Rowan and Cabarrus communities, especially Rep. Linda Johnson who was determined to support the need for multi-campus funding,” Spalding said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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