State’s community college fees will hold this year, director says|[04/30/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2007

Wayne Stonecypher, executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, said he is &#8220not aware of any rising tuition this year” in any of the state’s 15 junior colleges.

&#8220Every time we raise tuition we jeopardize someone’s opportunity to come to school,” Stonecypher said. &#8220We’re about opening doors, not closing them.”

Classes at Hinds Community College, which has a campus in Vicksburg, cost $870 per semester for full-time students taking up to 19 academic hours, according to its Web site. Costs increase for more hours.

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Part-time students pay $85 per semester hour.

Classes at Pearl River Community College cost $810 per semester, while Jones County Junior College charges $870 per semester. Tuition costs at the remaining schools are in the same range.

Despite continued financial struggles surrounding Hurricane Katrina, the two junior colleges closest to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Pearl River and Jones County, did not raise tuition costs.

This year’s legislative session reaped a windfall for two-year colleges. Lawmakers appropriated $39 million for the two-year colleges and a $35 million bond for capital improvements.

Fulfilling the system’s premier and long-sought funding goal, Gov. Haley Barbour last week also signed into law a concept bill requiring per-pupil funding for two-year college students be at a mid-level between kindergarten through 12th-grade students and students at the state’s regional public universities.

&#8220That’s the most significant piece of legislation for community and junior colleges in 20 years, and I’ll be surprised if there’s anything so significant for another 20,” Stonecypher said.

Stable tuition aside, the new funding for the two-year system means more wish fulfillment for college presidents who saw their state appropriations slashed in the early part of the decade while enrollment skyrocketed.