07/10/05 — Tuition to increase 4 percent at WCC for fall semester

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Tuition to increase 4 percent at WCC for fall semester

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 10, 2005 2:00 AM

Tuition to attend Wayne Community College has increased 4 percent.

The college announced Friday that starting with the fall 2005 semester, the credit hour charge for residents will increase from $38 per credit hour to $39.50. The maximum a resident would pay is $632 per semester or $1,264 per year. Non-resident tuition would increase from $211 per credit hour to $219.50. The maximums would increase to $3,512 per semester, or $7,024 per year.

WCC President Ed Wilson said the rate hike applies to college credit courses, not continuing education classes.

"While the increase is small, I am worried about its impact on students," he said. "We are still a bargain compared to four-year institutions and other community college's nationally, but any tuition increase may close the door to higher education for some in our community. That`s my concern."

News of the tuition increase spread across the campus as students were planning their fall schedules and caused some to look again at their courseloads and finances.

Sophomore Michelle Rogers said she expects some of her fellow students may not return this fall: "For me, it's not going to have that much of an impact, but I know people who are barely making it already and those are the people that $1.50 per credit hour is going to affect."

She said compared to the other local colleges that offer the program in which she is interested, she said Wayne Community College is reasonable. She suffered sticker-shock when checking the tuition at colleges to which she might transfer.

"It is amazing," she said. "I can't believe that a semester's tuition and fees elsewhere could cost six to 12 times what it does here."

Accounting major Chasity Neumann said the cost of classes alone is not her biggest concern: "I don't mind the tuition going up, but with the price of books, it hits hard. They cost more than my classes. For one class, new books cost $235.70 and used ones are $185.10, but the class itself is only $158."

She said she can't sign up for three classes if she can't afford the books. She also works two part-time jobs. She said taking fewer classes each semester means it will take longer to complete her degree.

There are a variety of programs available to assist students with tuition costs. Information on federal financial aid programs and access to online applications is available at www.studentaid.ed.gov. College Foundation of North Carolina (www.cfnc.org) also supplies information and assistance on scholarship and grant programs.

One such program is the Community College Grant program, which is funded by the General Assembly. Both the Senate and House budgets propose increasing the program by $3 million. This would provide $13.9 million in aid for community college students.

The first step to apply for most financial aid is to complete the U.S. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who complete the form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov learn of their eligibility in two weeks or less, but processing the paper application takes longer.

Students who need assistance may come to the college's financial aid office except on the July 28 and Aug. 11 and 12 registration days.

The Foundation of Wayne Community College is a source many students look to for help. The nonprofit organization is assisting more students than ever before, Executive Director Jack Kannan said, but a succession of tuition increases has decreased the amount each student receives.

"Five years ago, a semester's tuition was $294," he said. "A $500 scholarship provided for tuition, fees and some help with books. Now $500 will pay just 75 percent of the tuition, and the cost of books has surpassed tuition."

Kannan said the foundation has received record donations, and the annual golf tournament has been more and more successful, "but we just can't keep up. We're helping as many students as we can but doing less for each."

The foundation has awarded all of the funds allotted for fall, and there is a waiting list, Kannan said. Each semester, he said, the number of applicants increases.

"There are more and more deserving students who need assistance," he said. "If we get more money, we'll help some more of them."