Gila Community College will remain a stellar deal for students wanting to take three to six credits after January’s 30 percent tuition increase. But full-time students will face the most expensive community college tuition in the state.
This semester, GCC’s tuition schedule mirrors Eastern Arizona College’s, which
charges $130 for students taking two to six credits. After six credits, the charge incrementally increases until topping out at $760 for 12 credits.
In January, 12 credits at GCC will cost $988 — nearly $150 more than Coconino Community College, the second-most expensive community college in Arizona at $70 per credit. GCC and EAC are the only two community colleges offering plateaued tuition from two to six credits. Yavapai Community
College offers the cheapest tuition at $58 per credit hour, and the other rural community colleges charge anywhere from $60 to $64.
The Maricopa County community colleges charge $71 per credit hour. Community colleges still charge much less than state four-year schools. A student at Arizona State University will pay $3,800 for seven or more credits this spring.
In August, GCC’s board increased spring semester tuition by 30 percent to balance an unknown deficit of anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million.
Other cost-saving measures included an administrative staff furlough to save $526,000, and moving the age for senior waiver eligibility from 55 to 61. Seniors 61 years old to 64 years old will pay half tuition, and those 65 and older will pay 25 percent.
College officials have often touted GCC’s low tuition as one of the school’s selling points. Senior Dean Stephen Cullen did not respond to a request for comment.
The college received a cut in state aid this year because of the state’s budget crisis. Also, the college receives less than half of the per-student funding as other community colleges because of its provisional status.
Gila County’s assessed property valuation and population counts fall below legislative thresholds, which makes it illegal for the county to run its own college.
GCC contracts with EAC, which runs the college, controlling most financial and personnel decisions, and ultimately deciding what courses are offered.
Raising tuition was one of the first financial decisions the GCC board has made to control its financial destiny, although EAC instilled the furlough.
Advocates want to change the law so the county can run its own college.