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LBWCC fall tuition increases

Lakeylus Adams and De’Airhyus Flowers play ping pong at the LBWCC student center Monday. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Students attending LBW Community College this fall will pay a little extra for their education.

The Alabama State Board of Education approved a rate increase of $15 per credit hour for the state’s community colleges during a special meeting last week.

That’s an extra $180 per semester for 12 credit hours, which is fulltime, and an extra $225 for 15 credit hours at any two-year college in the state.

“The tuition increase was the only way to continue to provide the programs and services that are absolutely essential for preparing our workforce and rebuilding our economy,” said LBWCC President Dr. Herb Riedel.

The Alabama Community College System has suffered a 25.3 percent decrease in state funding in the past four years, totaling $240 million, he said.

In fiscal year 2007-08, state support represented 47.8 percent of total revenues. This year, that percentage is 32.41, Riedel said.

While state funding is decreasing, student enrollment is up, as well as demand for educational services, as is the need for many colleges to increase class sizes, expand course sections and hire additional adjunct faculty.

However, at LBWCC, class sizes were increased, staffing levels decreased and maintenance and equipment purchases deferred, Riedel said.

Students will now pay $126 per credit hour for tuition and fees, with the possibility of up to an additional $10 per credit hour for a special building fee approved by the BOE.

“The building fee is intended to repay bond indebtedness, but LBWCC does not plan to implement the full building fee at this time,” Riedel said.

College administrators will make a decision on the building fee this week, he said.

Tuition for a full-time student attending the fall and spring semesters will be a minimum of $3,024, depending on the number of credit hours taken.

“Of all new full-time students at LBWCC, 82 percent receive grant or scholarship aid from the federal or state government, the college or private sources,” he said. “Our two college foundations are redoubling their efforts to assist students during these difficult financial times.”

One such student is sophomore De’Airhyus Flowers.

“I’ll still be able to go to school,” he said. “I’m on a Pell grant. You have to pay for your books and then you get back the rest. That just means I won’t get back as much of a refund as I had been getting.”

Rising high school senior Lakeylus Adams, who was at the LBWCC student center, said that cost is a factor when deciding where he’ll go to school next year.

“I’m still trying to decide where to go,” he said. “I would like to go to Alabama, but I may go here.”

Riedel pointed out that despite the fiscal restraints faced by the college, LBWCC continues to develop innovative programs and find ways to advance the college.

“We continue to be very conservative in our budgeting process,” Riedel said. “We are implementing the new honors program this fall. In addition, the Math Emporium, a program for student success in mathematics, will be fully implemented on all campuses this fall. With mostly private funding, we will also begin some campus enhancements on the Andalusia campus.”

Riedel maintained that LBWCC offers “the best value in education.”

“In these difficult economic times, people are looking for value in everything, including education. You cannot find a better value in the education system than LBWCC. Our tuition is still less than half of that for any state four-year institution. In most cases, students can continue living at home while attending school to avoid additional living expenses.”