Low property tax rate and state funding cuts prompt tuition increase at CCC
Flagstaff, AZ: After a year with zero increases in tuition, the District Governing Board (DGB) at Coconino Community College voted unanimously raise tuition by $10 per credit hour effective fall semester 2010. The DGB reluctantly made the decision as a direct result of funding cuts at the state level.
Coconino Community College District Governing Board Member, Nat White said, “Coconino Community College has two primary goals; providing both a quality and affordable post-secondary education for our students. For the last two years we have been doing everything we can not to shift the burden of state cuts onto students. Last year we did not raise tuition on the hopes that the state cuts would not be as severe as projected. Unfortunately the cuts did occur and we had to act on the increase which amounts to 7% over the past two years. “
The increase would bring CCC’s tuition and fees to $85.00 per credit hour making CCC the highest priced community college in the state. In spite of this distinction CCC is still well below the national cost per credit hour for community colleges.
When asked why CCC has the highest tuition in the state, the President of Coconino Community College, Dr. Leah L. Bornstein said, “Coconino County has the lowest property tax allocation for Community Colleges in the state. Coupled with state cuts of nearly 25% we had nowhere to go but to the students. Through our sustainable financial plan we have cut nearly $1.5 million dollars from our budget in response to state cuts over the past 2 years, and we plan to keep reducing. But there comes a point where the quality of the education we provide will suffer without generating more revenue. “
Currently CCC receives less than half of the average the other Arizona Community Colleges receive in property tax revenue. For example: CCC receives about $33.00 per household for each $100,000 in assessed value per year in property taxes. By comparison Eastern Arizona Community College in Graham County receives about $179.00 for every $100,000 in assessed value per household. The state average for all community colleges is $112.00 per $100,000 of assessed value per household.
CCC has experienced double digit enrollment growth the last several semesters, and although the official numbers for spring 2010 have not been tabulated it looks like there will be another increase especially in full time students. Financial aid disbursement has increased from 5.3 million in spring of 2009 to 7.9 million in the spring of 2010 semester, an increase of over 40%.
Chairman of CCC’s District Governing Board, Patrick Hurley added, “We fully understand the impact the increase will have on our students and we have seen to it that we have adequately funded financial aid with a portion of the tuition increase to help bridge the gap to help as many students as we possibly can through DGB scholarships.”
The tuition increase will help CCC in the short term, however at some point in the near future Coconino County will need to address the extremely low property tax rate allocated to the community college.