Chemeketa raises tuition, expected to stay lowest in state

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Chemeketa raises tuition, still expected to stay lowest in state

Published 9:06 p.m. PT Feb. 22, 2017 | Updated 9:52 a.m. PT Feb. 23, 2017

Tuition will increase at Chemeketa Community College, the first increase in four years.

The school’s board of education unanimously voted Wednesday night to boost tuition by $5 or $6 per credit.

The annual cost of 45 credits — 15 credits per term for 3 terms — is currently $4,230. Depending on state funding, the college could increase $6 per credit, becoming $4,500, or $5 per credit more, or $4,455 annually. This could impact summer students but will be fully implemented by the fall term.

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(Photo: MOLLY SMITH/Statesman Journal)

Greg Harris, a spokesperson for Chemeketa, said the need for an increase came this year because state funding proposed in the Governor’s budget “does not meet all necessary community college costs.”

Unless other colleges reduce tuition costs, Chemeketa is expected to remain the least expensive community college in the state.

“We are the first college in the state to set its tuition, so how we rank depends on what other schools do,” Harris said. “We expect to still be the lowest or perhaps next to lowest cost community college in Oregon. ”

Though enrollment is down by 5 percent this year, Chemeketa had about 15,950 students taking classes in the fall term.

“No new investments will be possible without a significant increase in the state allocation,” he said. “We are comfortable and confident that … we will be able to serve students at the same quality we have always delivered.”

Last year, Julie Huckestein, president of the college, said she believed there would most likely be an increase in the 2017-2018 year, based on various elements, including economic forecasts.

“This is the ultimate crapshoot, folks,” said Ken Hector, vice chairperson of the board.

Multiple board members at the meeting Wednesday said they did not want to raise tuition, but it was necessary in this case.

Seong Jeon, the board’s student representative, said she met with a forum of students about the increase before it passed. The students understood, she said, why the increase was happening and there wasn’t much push-back, especially since it still allowed the college to be one of the least expensive in the state.

However, Jeon, 18, said the students wanted to make sure certain programs were not going to be negatively impacted, particularly because completion rates have decreased as funding increases.

Harris said enrollment is most vulnerable with part-time, adult students.

“They may not have federal financial aid and are paying out-of-pocket,” he said. “The additional cost may increase the number of them who decide a college education is too much of an investment of money but also an investment of time and energy.”

For more information, go to www.chemeketa.edu or call 503-399-5000.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

Chemeketa’s tuition change over time

Average of per credit cost with fees

  • 2007-08:  $64
  • 2008-09:  $67
  • 2009-10:  $78
  • 2010-11:  $81
  • 2011-12:  $87
  • 2012-13:  $90
  • 2013-14:  $94
  • 2014-15:  $94
  • 2015-16:  $94
  • 2016-17:  $94

Five least-expensive community colleges in Oregon

Annual in-district cost per student, based on 45 credits, 2016-17

  • Chemeketa: $4,230
  • Clackamas: $4,412
  • Central: $4,534
  • Klamath: $4,605
  • Portland: $4,748

Funding outcomes

If state funding is $550 million or less, Chemeketa’s per credit cost will increase $6 for a total of $100 per credit.

These increases will not provide additional services, board members said, but will allow the college to maintain current services.

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