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Greenfield Community College

Trustees OK GCC fee hike

Depends on state funding

GREENFIELD — Since it is still unclear how much state funding Greenfield Community College will receive next year, the school’s board of trustees approved a potential hike in student fees Wednesday.

In the school’s best case-scenario, the college would receive $8.9 million from the state, plus about $550,000 to cover annual faculty and staff raises, and wouldn’t have to raise fees at all.

And in the worst case: GCC would receive $7.8 million for the third straight year, plus an estimated $550,000 for wage increases. The school would increase its college service fees by $10 per credit and hike the cost of four program fees, by as much as $500 per year.

Typical courses at GCC are three credits, which means as high as a $30 hike per course. If a student were to take four or five courses a semester that could add up to an extra $480 to $600 over two years.

Board members and President Robert Pura, who emphasized a desire to freeze fee increases, are hoping that a conference committee in the Legislature will lean more toward the House proposal (the $8.9 million plus wage increases) as opposed to the Senate’s plan.

But in case that doesn’t happen, the fee increases approved Wednesday could bring in as much as $512,500 next year, school officials said. Chairman Robert Cohn and President Robert Pura will make a final decision this summer after the state budget is finalized in July.

The increase will apply to the college service fee, by far the largest portion of tuition costs at the school. An individual pays the fee — which could increase as much as $10 to $180.50 per credit — during every course enrollment.

Every $1 of fee increase brings in about $44,500 to the college, said Pura. The board increased the college service fee by $10 per credit last year.

Also on Wednesday, the GCC board voted to potentially increase four program fees, which they said will provide $67,500 of revenue each year.

The associate’s degree in nursing program could increase by as much as $500 to $2,000 per year. And the licensed practical nurse program could see a maximum increase of $250 to $1,050 per year.

The outdoor leadership program could see a fee hike of $500 to $2,500 per year.

And the online/distance education courses could change in fee structure from $10 per credit to a maximum of $60 per semester.

State funding for public higher education has decreased dramatically over the decades, including a recent downward trend since the onset of the Great Recession. The state allocated $9.2 million to the college five years ago.

The $7.8 million from the state made up about 41 percent of GCC’s revenue last year.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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