CCAC Raises Tuition and Fees, Again

The Community College of Allegheny County trustees announce another tuition increase along with hikes in some fees. Out of state student’s tuition per credit was boosted by a third.

Justifying the third price rise in a row, the trustees pointed to the need to cover higher costs including employee compensation, utilities and other items purchased by the school. One of which of course is the huge jump in the cost of health insurance that will be coming soon. The school has already resorted to using more and more adjunct faculty who will not eligible for health insurance and are paid peanuts to begin with. But because of the expected increase in wages and benefits for those who are full time the use of adjuncts is not a complete offset.

How can colleges keep raising tuition and fees? Very simple. It’s is the fact that demand is so strong and so inelastic. First of all, government aid for students help sustain strong demand; second, society’s pressure on students regardless of aptitude and ability to get college degrees and regardless of whether the time and money expended to get a degree will ever any positive return on the investment, and the lack of skills acquired in 13 years of K-12 education that necessitates further schooling to qualify for even basic jobs beyond the completely menial.

The growing amount of remedial education offered to incoming students is testimony to the inadequate preparation a huge fraction of high school grads have received. Encouraging them to go to college despite their preparedness and aptitude and finding government aid for them contributes to the flow of incoming students who are sustaining college enrollment beyond economically justifiable levels and allowing colleges to continue increasing tuition and fees.

College Pretends Tax Hike was Imaginary

The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) was set to receive $16 million under the initial 2012 budget proposed by the former County Executive, but after County Council passed a 1 mill tax hike CCAC’s appropriation to $25 million.

Before the hike became a reality, top officials of CCAC’s student government told Council that many students could not afford another tax hike. One burned a $20 bill. CCAC’s president said that "a cut of $7 million could mean layoffs, closing of facilities, and higher borrowing costs." Advocates did not offer suggestions for combing through the budget and finding the savings elsewhere since the implicit belief was that taxpayers could afford a tax increase.

Now comes word that CCAC’s fundraising drive for program and capital projects has gone so swimmingly that the goal has been raised from $30 million to $40 million as the public phase of the drive begins. That drive includes the construction of a new science building. In short, in four months time the college has moved from mothballing buildings to possibly constructing new ones.

It will be curious to see how many prospective donors from Allegheny County are approached who will kindly tell the college that they would like to donate but their contribution will be included in the document mailed back to the County Treasurer’s office titled "2012 tax bill".