By EDDIE CELAYA
The Pima Community College Board of Governors voted to raise tuition for the upcoming school year by $3, bringing the rate to $81.50 per credit hour. The board also voted to add a $75 per semester fee for all out-of-state and international students.
Before the vote, board members laid out their reasoning and rationales. Board President Mark Hannah led the discussion.
“There is nothing we do that impacts more people than our vote on tuition,” he said. “I know that every single dollar change in tuition impacts those students. I see it in real time and the affect it has on students.”
However, as he continued he explained why he would be voting for the $3 increase.
“I know in order for our college to be financially sound and for us to reward our employees in a proper manner, that we have to balance that decision,” he said.
Chancellor Lee Lambert echoed Hanna.
“I’m a first-generation college student, I know how hard it is to come up with tuition and fees and books and all of that,” he said. “But I also knew when I was a student I wanted quality faculty, quality staff.”
The discussion ended and District 5 representative Luis Gonzales called for a roll-call vote, a departure from the board’s usual policy of a voice vote. PCC General Counsel Jeff Silvyn called the board members’ names.
The vote was 4-1 in favor of the tuition increase, with Gonzales as the only dissenting vote. Before casting his vote, Gonzales launched into a response to the other board members and the chancellor’s arguments.
He attacked the budget process first.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of processes building budgets,” he said. “This is the first time I have had the experience of doing it backwards. I don’t feel comfortable with it and I don’t think we should build budgets piecemeal like we are doing here.”
Gonzales then took the student’s perspective.
“I don’t agree with all the arguments that have been made here as to the reasoning and rationale as to why we want to balance a budget on the backs of students,” he said. “And for that reason, I vote no.”
Tuition rates, which had been on the docket to be voted on at the March meeting, are usually set before registration opens for Summer and Fall sessions. That did not happen this year.
Because of that, tuition rates for the upcoming summer sessions will fall under the previous tuition schedule of $78.50.
Conversely, according to college spokeswoman Libby Howell, any student who signed up early for fall semester classes will be seeing an additional billing charge.
“If a student has already registered and paid any amount for a term beginning after June 30, the student will be notified via email that they have an outstanding balance on their account for the difference between what was paid, and the new higher amount,” she said.