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PCC raises tuition, asks staff to take unpaid leave after losing state funding

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PCC raises tuition, asks staff to take unpaid leave after losing state funding

  • Kynn Bartlett/Wikimedia

In an attempt to make up for a complete loss of state funding, Pima Community College is raising tuition and asking staff to consider taking voluntary unpaid time off.

Last year, PCC received more than $7 million in state funding. The new state budget, signed by Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday, reduced community college funding to $0 statewide, except for Pinal County.

On Wednesday, the PCC Governing Board approved a $5 per credit hour tuition increase to in-state tuition for the 2015-16 academic year, bringing the cost to $75.50 per credit hour — about a 7 percent increase.

"It pains me to have to look at tuition as a revenue stream," PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert said in an interview. "It's a balancing act. We want to keep tuition low, but we need to have the resources to provide quality education and services to our students."

The board also approved to increase out-of-state tuition by $23 a credit hour, from $329 to $352.

In addition to those changes, the semester processing fee will increase from $10 to $15, a $15 graduation fee and the $2 fee for a student ID will be eliminated.

The changes will go into effect on July 1.

The tuition increase is expected to generate an additional $3 million for the college, making up for less than half of the lost funding.

The Governing Board is also looking at increasing the property tax levy by 2 percent in June. That would generate about $4 million.

Due to national trends, Pima was preparing for budget cuts long before the new state budget was approved, Lambert said.

Three budget scenarios had been considered, he said, with cuts of $5 million, $10 million or $15 million.

Still, Lambert said, he was not expecting to lose state funding entirely.

An increase in taxes and tuition would almost equal the cut in state funding. Despite that, PCC is looking for more ways to cut costs.

Earlier this week, David Bea, PCC's executive vice chancellor for finance and administration, sent an email to staff addressing the budget shortfall and encouraging them to submit "creative budget solutions" via an online survey tool. Staff have the option of submitting suggestions anonymously.

Perhaps more telling, however, was a section of the email informing staff that they would soon be receiving a survey to see which employees might consider voluntarily reducing their work hours (with reduced pay) either during the summer or on a year-round basis.

This is one of many cost-cutting measures the college is exploring, said Carl Englander, Bea's executive assistant. Until it is determined how many employees are interested in participating it is difficult to estimate how much money could be saved that way, he said.

That is just one of many things Pima is considering, Lambert said. "What we are doing now is asking folks for ideas — things that are going to be helpful in cutting costs."

During the 2006-07 academic year in-state tuition at PCC was $48.50 per-credit-hour. This means that tuition has increased almost 35 percent in under a decade.

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