CCs move to differential tuition rates

Breaking with tradition, more community colleges plan to charge more for career and technology programs that cost more to deliver, reports Inside Higher Ed.

At Pima Community College in Tucson, demand is high for health sciences and engineering programs which require a low student-teacher ratios and costly lab equipment. Chancellor Roy Flores wants to phase in a 10 to 30 percent premium for courses such as nursing and avionics.

“The point is to guarantee access,” Flores said. “The access will be zero if the programs go away. I’m mindful of price elasticity and that some students might be shut out if the price goes too high.… But it’s a balancing act, and we’re a long way from shutting people out.”

Flores also wants to offer a tuition discount to students who take courses in “off-peak” hours.

Aims Community College in Colorado has charged differential tuition for five years.

The regular tuition rate for courses at the college is $65.40 per credit hour. Tuition for fire science and communications media is $115 per credit hour; tuition for the surgical technology program is $120 per credit hour; and finally, tuition for aviation, radiologic tech and nursing is $125 per credit hour.

No one knows how many community colleges charge premium rates for high-demand, high-cost programs, but the practice is expected to become spread as colleges try to meet higher demand with less funding.