Colleges raise rates of rooms

2010-02-21T00:00:00Z Colleges raise rates of roomsBy JACKIE BORCHARDT Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
February 21, 2010 12:00 am  • 

CASPER — Students won’t pay more tuition but will pay more to live on campus next year at Wyoming’s community colleges.

Casper, Central Wyoming, Eastern Wyoming and Northwest colleges have increased room and board rates for 2010-11. Rates have not been set for Laramie County and Western Wyoming community colleges and the Northern Wyoming Community College District, although the latter — which encompasses Sheridan and Gillette colleges — expects to raise rates by about 5 percent.

At Northwest College, the price of a room increased by about 9 percent.

Although Northwest College made a profit, rates were raised to build a maintenance fund for residence halls and apartments, according to Sheldon Flom, the college’s finance director.

The Casper College Board of Trustees approved housing and meal plan increases Thursday night. The rates for single and double occupancy in residence halls jumped about 20 percent from 2009-10. A double room will cost $1,175 per person per semester, up from $975 this year. A single room will cost $1,875 per semester, up from $1,575.

Meal plans increased because of increased food and personnel costs, said Lynnde Colling, vice president of administrative services at Casper College. Room rates were increased to anticipated utility and staff insurance increases.

Despite the increase, residence halls are still an affordable option for students, Colling said. Room rates break down to about $395 per month and include utilities, cable TV and Internet service, which would all cost extra in an off-campus apartment.

“We don’t want to price ourselves out of the market,” Colling said. “There’s value to living on campus.”

Room and board rates are about the only costs colleges were allowed to raise for next year. The Wyoming Community College Commission considered raising tuition $3 per credit, or about $36 per semester for a full-time, Wyoming resident. Gov. Dave Freudenthal promised federal stimulus funds for the state’s colleges as long as they didn’t increase tuition or fees for one year.

About $8.3 million is expected to come from State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, divided between the colleges for major maintenance projects and aid to offset recent enrollment growth. Money would be available to colleges in July and some might be available as early as next month, said Jim Rose, college commission director.

The tuition increase would have generated $1.2 million statewide. All community colleges charge the same tuition but charge different fees, which creates differences in students’ total costs. Rose said the stimulus money would make a big difference for the state’s colleges.

“Many states have seen a lot more serious budget problems than Wyoming and reduced their funding for higher education,” Rose said. “The only recourse many higher education institutions have is to raise tuition.”

Eastern Wyoming College increased room rates and meal plans by 3.8 percent across the board. Room and board increased 10 percent at Central Wyoming College.

Contact Jackie Borchardt at jackie.borchardt@trib.com or 307-266-0593.

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