CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Most of the attention regarding increased tuition and fees has been focused on the state’s four-year institutions in recent months. Less publicized has been the creeping cost of tuition and fees at the state’s community and technical colleges.
Chancellor Jim Skidmore recently briefed state lawmakers on the increases, which seem modest compared to the vast jumps for the state’s colleges and universities. The average cost of tuition and fees at community or technical college increased $208 this year which is about six percent system wide. Over the last three years the costs have jumped 6.6 percent equating to an average increase of $491.
“We are a little concerned that the tuition keeps increasing. It’s a national problem,” Skidmore told members of the legislature. “I think at some point we’re going to have to decide in West Virginia how high we’re going to go on those and not price us out of the marketplace.”
Skidmore also alerted lawmakers to a growing disparity among the community and technical colleges The cost for attending the traditional stand alone community colleges is much cheaper than a community or technical school which separated from a four-year baccalaureate institution in the past decade. The problem is even though the school’s split away from their larger four year parent school, they are still bound to the capital costs of that institution. Skidmore said the most expensive is Pierpont Community and Technical College which broke away from Fairmont State.
“Pierpont’s tuition and fees are $4,400,” Skidmore said. “The majority of that is capital and auxiliary fees.”
Much like the larger four-year institutions, Skidmore said the community and technical colleges were forced to make up budget shortfalls from the pockets of students or their parents.
“Typically they use their tuition and fees to offset the budget reductions as well as addressing their operating costs and keep going some of the programs they have implemented,” he said.