CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Facing increasing costs and a possible reduction in state funding, the Wyoming Community College Commission voted Wednesday to raise tuition rates at its seven campuses.
Under the change, resident students will see tuition jump by $4 per credit hour, from $75 to $79, beginning next fall. As a result, the full-time tuition rate for state residents will jump from $1,800 a year to $1,896.
The seven member commission approved the measure with a 3-2 vote. One member was absent and Chairwoman Wendy Sweeny did not vote.
Sweeny said the cost of providing a college education is increasing, and there must be a balance between raising money to cover those costs and keeping Wyoming colleges competitive with other campuses in the region.
"We're still an incredible bang for the buck," Sweeny said.
Commissioner Larry Atwell, who voted against the tuition hike, said more needs to be done to help low-income students pay for a college education and more discussion about how colleges can control costs.
"I think we've got to start looking inward and saying, 'Hey what can we do to do a better job,'" Atwell said.
Commissioner Saundra Meyer, who voted for the increase, noted that most community college representatives supported raising tuition.
"I don't think it's going to impact students significantly at this time," Meyer said.
The commission also decided against charging extra for credit loads that exceed the full-time level of 12 a semester. The decision continues the current practice.
Under the plan to increase tuition, residents of 14 other western states and Nebraska will see their annual, full-time tuition increase from $2,688 a year to $2,832. Students from other states will now pay $5,688 a year.
The vote marks the third tuition increase in as many years for the two-year colleges and comes at a time when Gov. Matt Mead is recommending a 6 percent cut in state funding for community colleges.
The proposed cut by Mead, which would amount to about $5.5 million, will be taken up by the Legislature next month.
Along with state aid and tuition, community colleges get revenue from fees and property taxes.
Wyoming has community colleges in Casper, Cheyenne, Rock Springs, Riverton, Sheridan, Torrington and Powell.