CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Community College Commission unanimously approved a $4-per-credit-hour increase for all students next year during a meeting Tuesday in Cheyenne.
Full-time Wyoming students will pay $1,800 for the 2012-13 school year, up from $1,704 in 2011-12. Out-of-state students will pay $288 more per year.
College presidents and trustees present at the meeting said they supported the “modest” $4 per hour increase and opposed raising the cap on how much tuition full-time students pay. Currently, students don’t have to pay for classes taken beyond 12 credit hours.
Presidents worried making students pay for more hours would reduce enrollment in many classes and make their hardest-working students have to work more outside of class to pay for school.
“We learned the average age for our students is 25 to 40 — we know that these then are working students,” said Sherri Lovercheck, trustee at Eastern Wyoming College. “These students are deeply impacted by a $200 to $500 tuition increase because these jobs are not high-paying jobs.”
Commissioners said the Legislature has supported the colleges with generous funding, and increasing tuition demonstrates the colleges’ investment in themselves.
“This isn’t a good thing, but we need to pay our own way,” said Commissioner Charlene Bodine. “We need to be responsible.”
The colleges and University of Wyoming did not raise tuition for the 2010-11 year in order to receive federal stimulus money, a mandate from former Gov. Dave Freudenthal. UW this year increased tuition at twice the rate to make up for the lost year.
The community colleges raised tuition only $3 per credit hour, or $72 per year for full-time, in-state students.
Casper College students surveyed their peers and found most students taking more than 12 hours would either not enroll in extra hours or would have to work more.
Commissioner Wendy Sweeny said the commission will discuss increasing the cap in the future, and colleges should be prepared to discuss the possible impact on their students next December.