College board mulls nursing tuition hikes

CNCC tables decision until budget finalized

Board members at Colorado Northwestern Community College are waiting to crunch the school's budget numbers before deciding whether to require students in specialized programs to pay an increase in tuition costs.

Moffat County students at the college will have to pay 25 percent of tuition costs starting in the fall because of state budget cuts. But classes in programs such as nursing, dental hygiene and flight and aviation cost more to teach; and those costs could be passed onto students.

Board members at Thursday night's meeting tabled a decision about whether to absorb the extra costs, which would be about $33 extra per credit for nursing students. The state Legislature has approved a "differential tuition" program in which schools can charge more per credit for classes that are more expensive to administer. Although other classes cost $72 per credit, nursing-related courses cost $105. The total cost to first- and second-year nursing students is almost $50,000. That could be money that comes out of students' pockets or is fronted by the college, depending on future board action.

"It's kind of tough to change (tuition) in mid-stream," said CNCC board member Link Derick.

Derick said he thought there were students enrolled in the cosmetology program who wouldn't have been able to finish the program if tuition costs were increased halfway through the progam.

"There's probably those kind of students in nursing, too," he said.

Dean Hollenbeck, CNCC vice president, said he's heard from students that the nursing program is affordable and that a cost increase wouldn't affect enrollment for the highly sought program.

"Even with $33 added on, it's still a break," Hollenbeck said. "Students have already said that we're not charging enough for the program."

In other business, board members reviewed bids for costs of siding on Trappers Health Club. The board approved spending no more than $25,000 on the project, but will let college administration officials choose a contractor.

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