Is it just me or did the state of Connecticut just approve steep tuition hikes for all community college students? Oh, right, they did. The price hike was approved on March 31st.
And if you thought that one was bad… you got another thing coming. These poor kids can’t catch a break.
CT Mirror reports that state community colleges are mulling over a new price increase that is borderline insane. Not only should the measure pass, they are debating on whether or not to end healthcare coverage for their thousands of students. That aside, the new tuition fees could suck an extra $1,000 out of their pockets per semester.
As of right now, the proposal is sitting on the Board of Regents’ finance panel’s desk.
So here’s how the proposal is going down: they’re going after extra credit. As of right now, the average amount of credits a student collects per semester is around 12, but they can take up to 18. So, here’s what they’re planning: after 12 credits, a $74 mandatory fee will be tacked on per extra credit.
This will go on top of their $150 tuition fee.
The Mirror writes, “A student who took 18 credit hours would be charged an extra $1,344 over the current cost of $2,084 a semester, a 64.5 percent increase.”
Of course, the board nonchalantly says students can avoid paying more by simply not taking extra courses should they not be offered for free. That in, they say low-income students are less likely to take on extra courses than their wealthier counterparts.
Probably, yeah, since those students are probably working full time to afford getting a degree in the first place.
And I have a story about taking extra courses. Tacking on an extra class every semester helped me graduate on time. During my sophomore year, I transferred to my dream college, Loyola University Maryland. Sadly, I started as a freshman since the institution didn’t accept the credits I had already earned from UConn because, to them, the courses I took at UConn weren’t comparable to the ones they offered on their campus.
That’s another rant in itself which really doesn’t relate to the point I’m trying to make.
So, obviously, I wasn’t going to take an extra year of classes just to graduate. So, what did I do? I piled on the extra courses to get back on track. The hard work paid off and I collected my diploma on time.
But now it looks like kids who may wind up in a similar situation as mine will have it a lot tougher. The choice is now: bleed out of pocket now and take care of those classes to graduate on time OR bleed out of pocket for a whole extra year? Hmmm… decisions decisions.
Now, let’s take a look at how much these community colleges stand to gain should this tuition proposal be approved. The Mirror says there’s over 17,000 community college students currently enrolled in the state. One out of six students take more than 12 credits in a semester. So, after some mathematical finagling, the schools could gain an extra $8.7 million in tuition revenue.
On top of that, the colleges are flirting with plans of dropping healthcare coverage for their students in order for them to balance their budget. True, thanks to Obamacare, kids can now stay on their parents’ policy until they’re 26, and technically 1 in 10 students were insured by the schools, it may seem like a reasonable solution. That decision won’t affect that many kids, right?
The institution even went on to say that their lower income students can secure coverage via Medicare or Access HealthCT. Initial estimates project the colleges will save an extra $3,000 per student.
It still doesn’t make that decision right.
Alice Pritchard, the system’s chief of staff, explained to the Mirror:
“This policy change puts Connecticut in line with other New England states such as Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire who all charge per credit hour. Although some students may opt out of taking additional credits, some will continue, which will bring additional needed revenue to support the faculty, staff and resources necessary to hold these classes. This is something we’ve considered for many years but are proposing this policy now out of necessity. Though this will present a challenge for some students, it is a fair and fiscally responsible action and ensures we can provide access to higher education for all of our students.”
I get it, everything is expensive. Healthcare costs are spiking. State funding is decreasing. But constantly laying the financial burden onto the backs of students and expecting them to continue shelling out cash is inherently wrong and, honestly, not an effective way to sustain the coffers. I mean, that’s technically what Connecticut has been doing to its taxpayers and, well, it’s not going so great.
Community college tuition has doubled in the past 13 years, slower than the rate of inflation for public and private colleges, but it’s still a pretty big leap.
And we know what’s going to happen: despite the backlash and protests from the student body, the price hike will be approved. It’s just sad to see that students these days are seen as walking ATMs and nothing more.