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Mon, Oct. 14

Yavapai College may increase in tuition, residence hall costs

The Yavapai College District Governing Board on Tuesday took a first look at increasing tuition $4 per credit hour, from $58 to $62.

Executive Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Bob Lynch proposed the increase, explaining that any increase proposal is preliminary and could change depending on primary property taxes and the continued reduction in state aid.

College officials reported that each $1-per-credit-hour tuition increase equals $100,000 in additional revenue. A $4-per-credit-hour increase equals an additional $400,000 for the college's general fund.

Lynch plans to provide the governing board more information during its March 9 meeting, at which time the board will make a decision about tuition rates.

In addition to the $4-per-credit-hour increase, out-of-state tuition would increase to reflect any increase in the general tuition.

Yavapai College's tuition is in the middle of the average of other rural community colleges. Currently, the lowest community college tuition is $51 per credit hour in Graham County. The highest tuition is $71 per credit hour in Maricopa County.

The community colleges in nine other Arizona counties are proposing tuition increases ranging from $2 to $5 per credit hour, which would result in an average of $63 per credit hour. Yavapai College would remain at or near the median average compared to other rural community colleges.

Community colleges receive revenue from primary property taxes, state aid (state equalization aid for qualifying counties), and local tuition and fee revenues.

For the 2009-10 budget year, Yavapai College received $36.8 million in primary property tax; $4.5 million in state aid; and $8.2 million in tuition.

Lynch said Yavapai College ranks below the average of the other rural community colleges with 16.6 percent of its operating revenue coming from tuition and fees compared to 21.6 percent for the average of the rural schools.

Yavapai College's general fund budget is "heavy on property tax and light on tuition," Lynch said.

Lynch is also proposing a 15 percent increase in the residence hall rates and a 5 percent increase in meal plans.

The current room rates range from $1,200 to $1,250 per semester.

Lynch explained that the increased room rate would generate $90,000, helping to offset the approximate $575,000 the general fund subsidized for the maintenance and operation of the residence halls.

"It is staff intent to implement annual increases until the subsidy is eliminated or market elasticity is reached," Lynch said. "It is estimated that this will take four to six years to bridge the disparity and reach a revenue/expenditure-neutral position."

Lynch said residence hall fees have reached the point of impacting students. He said the board could cap room rates and continue to subsidize the dorms with tuition and fees.

Board member Charles Leon thought the board could subsidize the dorms, to a point.

Lynch plans to present the board with three room rate plans in March, increasing rates from $1,250 to $1,400 per semester.

"What drives the costs up is the age of the dorms," board secretary Herald Harrington said. "The only way to reduce (the subsidy) is to spend capital."

Harrington asked Lynch to provide the governing board with cost estimates in tearing down the oldest dorm.

Lynch said the cost of renting off-campus for students sharing a an apartment or house is about $333 per month per student, plus utilities, food, laundry and other expenses, for a total of $5,000 to $6,000 per year.

Even at $2,800 per academic year, Lynch said living in a residence hall is a better value.

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