Maricopa Community Colleges board approves tuition discount
PHOENIX – Students attending Maricopa Community Colleges will not get an across-the-board break in tuition for the fall and spring semesters, but they will get some discounts and more access to scholarships.
The college district’s governing board on Tuesday withdrew a proposal that would have lowered tuition for Arizona residents by 25% in the fall and spring semesters.
Instead, board members voted 4-2 to approve a flat tuition rate of $1,020 for Arizona residents taking 12 credits or more per semester.
They also approved allowing out-of-state students to pay the in-state tuition rate if they take six or fewer credit hours per semester.
In addition, the board approved investing up to $13.5 million in scholarships and up to $500,000 to run a marketing campaign over the summer to try to get more students to enroll for the fall semester.
Board members were considering an across-the-board tuition reduction as a way to help students struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic and to address declining enrollment numbers.
But after they were presented the findings of a recent student survey showing only a few students cited tuition cost as a barrier to enrollment, they withdrew the proposal to reduce tuition by 25%.
The survey was conducted over the weekend. A text message was sent to 35,721 students asking them why they took classes in the spring semester but were not yet enrolled for the fall semester.
Of the 2,240 who responded, 91% said they intended to enroll and 56% said they have not enrolled because they have concerns related to the coronavirus, including being unaware of reopening plans and how classes will be offered.
Of those students who cited coronavirus concerns, 15% expressed that cost was a factor.
“That tells me that we do not need an across-the-board tuition reduction,” board member Linda Thor said. “But rather what we need is to enhance our scholarships or grants opportunities to take care of those students who are indicating that the barrier is that they can’t afford.”
Board member Dana Saar noted the survey “was only talking about students we already had.
“So we’re not getting a lot of those students that really could benefit from what we provide in terms of skills and education,” he said.
Still, Saar said he didn’t believe a 25% reduction in tuition would “get us the results that we’re looking for if our main goal is to bring enrollment up.”
Board President Marie Sullivan agreed that scholarships and a flat tuition rate for full-time students would help drive enrollment more than the tuition reduction.
“I also support the marketing promoting piece,” she said. “I think that it can answer a lot of the questions that people still have: What are we doing? When are we doing it? How are we going to go about things?”
She noted that in the survey, many students who cited noncoronavirus concerns as reasons for not yet enrolling for the fall semester also expressed that they needed more support, including wanting to speak with an advisor.