GRAND RAPIDS — Students attending Grand Rapids Community College from out-of-town and out-of-state will see a hefty increase in their tuition bill this fall, but they are not the only ones whose tuition is being raised.
Despite a history of low increases for residential students, Bob Partridge,
Partridge said while the significant hikes in non-resident and out-of-state tuition were part of a five-year tuition increase plan, the planned residential tuition increase was raised by $2 more in response to dwindling state aid.
GRCC now receives the same amount of state aid that it did in 1996, after losing 13 percent over the past three years, with no increase last year. Partridge said Gov. Jennifer Granholm has suggested a 2 percent rise in state funding for fall, but he is not sure what the final outcome will be.
“We’ve gone just a little off plan simply because our state aid has declined so much in the last two or three years,” Partridge said.
The non-residential and out-of-state rise in tuition had been planned as a way to make up for the price that residential students have to pay through taxes, Partridge said.
Tuition rose at a similar rate for the last three years with no complaints from non-residents and little change in the makeup of the student population, he said.
Though about 25 percent of students are non-residents, Partridge said he has seen no decline in non-resident numbers.
“Our enrollment’s at the highest level we’ve ever had this fall,” he said of the nearly 15,000 students enrolled at the college.
Climbing enrollment is part of the issue that Partridge said the school is dealing with. With more students and less state funding, many of the ancillary services that the college offers, such as counseling and tutoring, are suffering.
“We’re at a crossroads with our revenue pretty much staying stable and yet enrollment climbing so much,” he said.
One solution may include a millage request that would be in addition to the 1.9 mills the school has authorized.
Partridge said at this time he has no set amount in mind and no exact timeline for the millage, but it is being considered.