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RCCC: If General Assembly increases fall tuition, college will pay difference

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College officials said Monday that if the N.C. General Assembly increases tuition by $4 per credit hour this fall, the college will pay that amount as a “scholarship” to each student.

Although the state’s fiscal year starts July 1, the General Assembly is still debating the 2015-16 state budget. One item up for discussion is a tuition increase at the 58 community colleges across the state.

The General Assembly establishes tuition rates in the state budget or related legislation, so a tuition increase could be put into place later this year. Many students, however, have already paid their tuition for the fall term at the current rate of $72 per credit hour for in-state students and $264 per credit hour for out-of-state students.

If the General Assembly enacts a tuition increase that becomes effective prior to Jan. 1, 2016, college officials say, students will receive a supplemental bill for the balance owed for fall term.

“In order to prevent our students from worrying about this potential tuition increase of $4 per credit hour for the fall term, the college has chosen to allocate funding to cover this possible increase,” Rowan-Cabarrus President Dr. Carol S. Spalding said in a news release. “While we hope the legislature will at least delay the increase until the spring term, we want to be prepared to support each student with a $4 per credit hour scholarship to cover this cost. We truly care about our students.”

Rowan-Cabarrus, like all North Carolina community colleges, does not set or keep its tuition. Unlike tuition increases in state and private universities, which are incorporated into the universities’ operational budgets, these increases are not reallocated to fund community colleges.

Ninety percent of the college’s budget comes from state funding.

“We’re pleased to provide a solution that helps students reach their goals,” said Janet Spriggs, chief financial officer for the college. “Collecting the tuition increase after the fall semester is an inconvenience and burden to our students.”

North Carolina community college tuition rates have risen by 43 percent since 2009, but Rowan-Cabarrus officials say they’re still low compared to rates in other states. The current rate for in-state tuition is $72 per credit hour and out-of-state tuition is $264 per credit hour.

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