As inevitably as death and taxes, students at Salt Lake Community College will be facing a tuition increase next year. The only remaining question is “How much of an increase?”
On March 5, 2014, SLCC Interim President Dr. Deneece Huftalin, met with students and faculty in an open forum at the Student Activities Center on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. The forum was broadcast to eight other SLCC campuses. Students were invited to raise questions either in person or via text message.
Huftalin stated that total tuition increases of up to eight percent were possible, but the most likely increase will be between one and five percent depending upon the action of the Utah State Legislature and the funding provided by the state budget. Given these numbers, students are looking at an increase in per-credit-hour costs of up to $112.
Tuition for higher education in Utah is determined in two “tiers”: one by the state, the other by the school or institution itself. “Tier One” tuition increases are determined by the Board of Regents and is the state-wide baseline for all schools which are part of the Utah System for Higher Education (USHE). These funds are used primarily to meet the state’s education priorities. Since the 2011-2012 school year, Tier One increases have averaged between 4.5 percent and five percent per year.
“Tier Two” tuition increases are determined by the school to meet needs, goals and priorities unique to the school. Since 2011-2012 school year, SLCC has approved only a one percent increase as part of the school’s stated goals of remaining affordable, open and accessible to the widest range of students.
SLCC operating funds come from two sources: state funding and student tuition.
According to Huftalin, SLCC currently receives 51.6 percent of its funds from the state, and 47.8 percent of its funding from student tuition and fees. The stated goal of the president and school administration is to keep Tier Two increases as low as possible, but the school needs to make up any shortfall left by the state budget. If the state does not provide sufficient funding, Tier Two tuition could increase by up to three percent (in addition to any Tier One increases).
SLCC continues to work with the Utah State Legislature in order to change the SLCC funding model. A nation-wide study has revealed that community colleges in other states receive 70 percent of their funding from state dollars and 30 percent funding from student tuition.
Huftalin closed her remarks with a call to action. The state legislature is still in session. The number one thing students can do to keep their tuition low is “civic engagement”; contacting their representatives and members of the Utah Executive Appropriations Committee by phone and email in order to express support for SLCC and its mission.
Contact information for representatives and committee members can be found at http://utah.gov.