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LBW tuition rate hiked

For the first time in five years, tuition will increase at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, starting in the spring 2010 semester.

Thursday, the State Board of Education (BOE) approved an adjustment of the tuition rate at Alabama’s community colleges, increasing the rate from its current $71 per credit hour to $85 per credit hour in the spring 2010 semester. In addition, the rate will be adjusted to $90 per credit hour in the fall 2010 semester, and then an additional increase of $2 per credit hour in the fall 2011 semester and each fall thereafter.

LBWCC president Dr. Herb Riedel, who attended the state BOE meeting in Montgomery on Thursday morning, said the tuition increase was necessary.

“We have not had any tuition increases since 2005,” he said. “However, we have had dramatic cuts in state allocations, and we’ve also gone through proration each of the last two years.”

Riedel said the increase is required in order to prevent cuts in “essential programs and services.”

“We have worked hard on our budget the last two years, trying to get every inefficiency out of the system and save money everywhere we could,” he said. “But at this point, there was really no way to continue operating without cutting into the essential programs and services that are so important to our students and our mission.”

Riedel said an average full-time student would see an approximate tuition increase of a little less than $500. However, he said there are a few factors that will help lessen the financial strain for some students.

“The maximum amount of the Pell grant went up by $600 this year,” he said. “In addition, there is a federal tax credit of $2,500 for ‘educational expenses,’ which is something new and a lot of our students — or their parents if they are dependents — qualify for this credit. Certainly any tuition increase will bring some of a burden, but I think these two factors will help soften the blow.”

It is estimated the tuition increase will result in approximately $25.5 million in additional revenue, statewide, for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The tuition increase applies only to “credit classes” at LBWCC. It does not apply to continuing education classes, non-credit classes or non-credit workforce programs and adult education courses.

Riedel pointed that out that even after the tuition increase, the cost to attend LBWCC is still much lower than the cost to attend a four-year institution.

“We’re still less than half the tuition of any state college or university,” he said. “It’s still the best value you can have for education.”