Tuition has been increased 30 percent and senior citizen waivers for those 55 to 60 years of age have been eliminated at Gila Community College.
The action took place Aug. 10 during a governing board meeting in Globe. The changes go into effect at the onset of the spring semester.
Board members and Senior Dean Stephen Cullen reiterated during the two-hour-plus discussion on the changes that they were needed to reduce a purported budget deficit of about $500,000 caused by a reduction in state funding.
“The main problem is lack of state aid,” Cullen told the board.
In adopting the 30-percent increase in tuition, which was proposed by chairman Bob Ashford, the board considered four options.
Option 1 was a straight dollar increase proposed by Tom Loeffler. Option 2 was a 20-percent increase, option 3 a 30-percent boost and the final option was no tuition changes.
Loeffler and Larry Stevenson lobbied for the straight dollar increase saying it would be easier for students to accept.
“It is felt a small dollar increase is less alarming than hearing a percent increase,” Loeffler said. “For example, the $65 to $75 increase (for one credit hour) is $10, but is also a 15.4-percent increase.”
Ashford argued vehemently for the 30-percent increase, saying it was the best option because it would be a huge step in getting furloughed employees back to work.
After a lengthy debate, the board voted 3-2 for the 30-percent increase with Loeffler and Stevenson casting the “no” votes.
The board discussion on senior citizen waivers was as lengthy and impassioned as the debate over over tuition increases.
Board members again came up with options, this time five of them, including one in which the current policy would not be changed and anyone 55 years of age or older could take classes free of charge.
In option 2, which the board chose unanimously, students 55 to 60 years of age will no longer receive tuition waivers. Those 61 to 64 will have 50 percent of their tuition waived and students 65-years-plus will have 75 percent of their tuition waived.
Also at the meeting, the board accepted a proposal from Loeffler to set aside $40,000 in scholarship money for new students entering either the nursing or teaching professions.
Loeffler called the creation of the new scholarships “a good PR move,” and said the money “would not be a financial liability to our budget in any substantial way.”
Ashford argued briefly against the proposal, saying “there already is a line item in the budget,” for scholarships. Ashford later agreed to support the proposal.
The board also agreed to hold an upcoming work-study on how GCC will deal with scholarships and budget matters, including determining just how large the deficit actually is.
The scholarships will be issued to students based on academic achievement and financial need.