Treasure Valley Community College will increase tuition next school year following economic pressures and the unexpected hit of the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)
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ONTARIO – Tuition is going up at Treasure Valley Community College.
The college’s board approved a $3 per credit increase for the 2020-2021 academic year, which will bring an estimated $140,000 bump in revenue per year.
The school has tried to keep tuition down for the past couple of years, said Abby Lee, TVCC associate vice president for college and public relations. But regular increases to PERS and other bills, coupled with the unexpected hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, made the move to raise tuition inevitable.
Lee said the college surveyed students in January about the need for an increase. Of the 281 students who responded, 66% supported a $2 per credit increase while 28% said they would support a $4 increase.
“We landed at that $3 to try to make sure we can have a bit of a balance,” Lee said.
Lee said students on average take on about 13 credits per quarter.
The college had 1,472 students enrolled as of the fourth week of the spring quarter. Lee said hikes in tuition always have an impact on enrolment but that the school is also anticipating fewer students will enroll in light of the pandemic.
“We know in our community that every time we increase costs it makes it harder for our students to go to school,” Lee said.
Some surveys conducted around the country project that at least a third of students won’t enroll in higher education in the fall due to the coronavirus.
“Students are going through the process of figuring out what they’re going to do,” said Victoria Alexander, graduation specialist for the Migrant Program at Ontario High School.
Alexander helps seniors apply for college and prepare for life after high school. She said many of her students seem overwhelmed.
Many students have shared that their parents have lost their jobs or are now working fewer hours. Some of her students have also lost work. One student with plans to go to Oregon State University was recently laid off from a local restaurant and is worried about how she and her single mom will pay for school.
“The kids have been really impacted,” Alexander said. “They feel guilty about leaving, they have mixed feelings about leaving their parents behind now if their parents don’t have a job. It has really impacted our families.”
Alexander said some students are also working in the fields to contribute to their families’ finances. One student, accepted to Oregon State University, is now heading to TVCC to eliminate college housing costs.
“A lot of people are thinking because they’re laid off, their child can’t go to college,” said Jeaneth Mendoza, workforce consultant at the Ontario office of the Oregon Human Development Corp., a nonprofit that helps agricultural workers. “That mentality sets in that they can’t afford it because they don’t know the full picture and the many ways that are out there of finding aid.”
The nonprofit provides scholarships of up to $1,500 to students who work in agriculture or are relatives of agricultural workers.
Mendoza said social distancing guidelines have made it difficult to reach students. She and her colleagues are sending emails and informational packets to schools hoping to spread the word on the scholarships.
Yet many parents remain hopeful, Alexander said. She’s heard parents who tell their children that they will go to college no matter what. One mom calls her regularly to make sure her son is on track with scholarships and requirements.
“Parents, even though they are really worried, they want their kids to go and they’ll do whatever it takes,” Alexander said. “But the students worry. The kids are stressed.”
Have a news tip? Reporter Yadira Lopez: [email protected] or 541-473-3377
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