WSCC tuition to increase 3 percent

ONEKAMA — West Shore Community College students will be seeing a 3 percent increase in tuition costs in 2018-19 following action taken Monday at the board of trustees meeting.

Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes welcomes the West Shore Community College Board of Trustees to his facility on Monday. The meeting was one of two that the college trustees hold each year off campus.

Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes welcomes the West Shore Community College Board of Trustees to his facility on Monday. The meeting was one of two that the college trustees hold each year off campus.

The changes will raise the tuitions costs from $100 per credit hour to $103 for in-district students, while out of district tuition will go from $160 to $165 and out-of-state from $160 to $165.

College president Scott Ward commented that West Shore is still a good bargain for students compared to other community colleges, colleges and universities in terms of cost.

“Of the ‘Small Ten’ community colleges in Michigan we are last in terms of cost and we are well below the average of those 10 schools that is $118.80,” said Ward. “When you look at the three most popular universities of students from this area it is substantially cheaper as Central Michigan University ($417), Ferris State University ($419) and Grand Valley State University ($498) are much higher. So what we are charging is still quite a savings to the students.”

Ward said the gap between WSCC tuition and those three universities has widened greatly over the past 10 years. He cited the reason being the bigger schools have raised tuition to make up for state budget cuts.

“As we look forward toward the next fiscal year, the operating revenue outlook from sources other than tuition are predicted to increase slightly,” said Ward. “Local property tax revenue, which accounts for about one half of the total operating revenue will likely increase about 1 percent. I heard from Sen. (Darwin) Booher that the Senate is looking to put a 3 percent increase in state funding as well.”

However, Ward also cited WSCC is in a declining enrollment mode which means tuition revenue would also decrease if that trend continues.

“That is why I am recommending the 3 percent increase,” said Ward.

Administrative committee chair James Jensen said they reviewed the increase request and found it within reason considering the expected financial situation and the good quality education students receive from WSCC.

“I think when you look at when Grand Valley is charging $498 per credit hour to our $103,” said Jensen. “We do provide quite a value and a good education.”

Trustee Dr. Tony Fabaz agreed.

“Looking at what the universities and other community colleges are charging, the students here are still getting a heck of a deal,” he said.

Board chair Bruce Smith said the board has always done its best to keep costs down for the students.

“One of the things we have always tried to do is not put the burden of education on the shoulders of our students,” said Smith. “That is a philosophy we have always tried to do. Over the last 10 years our tuition increases have only been a little bit over 3 percent.”

He said with what WSCC charges it allows students to emerge from school in a better financial situation.

“I feel bad for those students that go to other schools and come out with a debt so high that they spend their first productive years in employment trying to pay off a debt and not getting ahead,” said Smith.

Monday’s board meeting was one of two the college holds off campus each year in the district and was hosted by the Onekama Consolidated Schools. Onekama superintendent Kevin Hughes welcomed the board to his facility and said he feels they have a great working relationship with WSCC.

Hughes pointed out that 30 Onekama High School students are currently taking 17 different dual enrollment classes at the college. He added that another 27 are taking 10 different tech prep classes that are offered at the college by the West Shore Educational Service District.

“It works well for us and we are able to send one bus down to the college with all the kids,” said Hughes. “We also like your northern campus at the hospital which makes it easy to send kids to that location.”

Board members also took action on Monday to approve the list of graduates for the 7 p.m. May 4 commencement exercises at the college.

“There will be 155 graduates who are earning 172 degrees and certificates,” said Ward. “One student will be earning three degrees, while 15 others will be earning two degrees.”

Action was also taken by the board to award the bid for paving the arts and sciences parking lot to Wadel Stabilization Inc. of Hart in the amount of $169,900. Their bid was the lowest of the three bids received with the other two being $175,611 from Rieth-Riley and $187,995 from Elmer’s Crane and Dozer.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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