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Tuition rates set to rise this summer

A chart containing additional information stands alone off-stage following a presentation explaining the upcoming tuition and fee increases. Photo by Saul Rodriguez.

The price of an education at Chemeketa is about to go up.

At its regularly scheduled Feb. 22 meeting, the Chemeketa Board of Education voted in favor of a proposal that will increase tuition rates and universal fees for the 2017-2018 school year.

Tuition rates will rise by $4-$5 per credit, and universal fees will rise by $1 per credit, depending on how much money is allocated to Oregon community colleges by the state legislature in the next biennium.

The price hike will take effect this summer.

“The current cost for tuition is $80 a credit and the fees are $14 a credit, so that’s a total of $94,” Greg Harris, the college’s dean of marketing and student recruitment, said. “[That’s] what you’ve been paying for the last four years.”

How much the price of taking classes at Chemeketa will rise depends on which budget scenario unfolds in the state legislature.

“If it’s $550 million or less, tuition will go up $5 and fees will go up $1, but with $550 million or more, tuition will go up $4 and fees will go up $1 as well,” Harris said.

Harris said that the revenue collected from the tuition and fee increase will go to pay for necessities in a variety of areas.

“What happens is the $4 or $5 go into the general fund, so it goes to paying faculty salaries, paying the light and heat bill, and paying custodians to clean our classes,” he said. “The fee will be split up and allocated to specific expenses, so it will go to things like paying for public safety officers, or paying for athletics…[and] technology in the classroom. The dollar increase will go to helping keeping the grounds and classroom maintained.”

Even if the higher of the two proposed tuition and fee increases is enacted, Chemeketa will still remain one of the least expensive community colleges in Oregon. However, Harris said that the Board didn’t come to this decision lightly, and that they are aware of the burden an increase like this places on struggling students.

“The Board of Education wants to express its deepest regrets in the added expenses,” he said. “We wouldn’t be doing this unless we had other options for maintaining the quality of education and services. We continue to make the case with legislature on how important it is to receive adequate state funding and not burden the students with these expenses; it’s something we take very seriously and we’re working very hard, but in this case this year we didn’t have the persuasive case in light of large state budget deficits.”