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Maricopa County Community College District Weighs Tuition Hike

Students attending classes in the Maricopa County Community College District will likely be looking at higher tuition rates.

The board that runs the district is considering hiking tuition rates by 9 percent for the next school year, the district’s largest proposed tuition hike this decade.

If approved, the district said students would pay $71 per credit hour, $6 more than this year.

“No one, and I think the faculty in particular, likes to see increases in tuition,” said Barry Vaughan, incoming president of the district faculty association. “We believe in keeping tuition as low as possible. We don’t like to shift that burden onto the students.”

Those attending community colleges in Maricopa County got a break last year when MCCCD held off raising tuition rates.

District officials said this time the colleges need more tuition revenue.

In particular, MCCCD must pay to operate its new facilities, provide additional student scholarships and employee raises, said Debra Thompson, vice chancellor in charge of business services. Also, the district needs to pay for new programs aimed at keeping students in school.

Seven of MCCCD’s colleges lost enrollment this school year and the older, more established campuses are dropping fastest, district data shows.

The key to stemming that decline is retaining the students already enrolled, Thompson said. Each of the colleges is beginning its own program to better prepare students for college coursework.

If the board approves the tuition increase, it could bring in an extra $1 million in financial aid for low-income students, Thompson said. MCCCD already awards more than $6 million a year in such scholarships.

Tuition levels at Arizona’s three public universities doubled over the past six years.

In the fall, Arizona State University will charge freshmen and transfer students $5,659 to enroll full time.

If the tuition increase passes, MCCCD will charge $2,130 next year for students taking 15 credit hours each semester.

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