Moffat County residents will have to pay a portion of tuition costs next year because of decreases in the state budget, Colorado Northwestern Community College board members said.
The decision will require residents who previously attended classes on scholarship or for no tuition to pay at least 25 percent of tuition costs.
"We've had a $1 million cut through the college," board member Barbara Pughe said. "We've been dealing with large cuts. We have to consider every aspect of the college."
But, tuition increases come on the heels of the largest graduating class for the Craig campus, said Gene Bilodeau, the dean of student and academic services.
Bilodeau said that about 100 students graduated from the Craig campus. Part of the increase is attributed to the first class of graduates from the CNCC nursing program. Other reasons may be that more high school students are choosing the local college to earn their degrees.
"It's certainly more than last year," Bilodeau said. "It's more than ever."
Pughe said the board would revisit the decision to require students to pay a portion of tuition if it is causing too much duress. Currently, residents of Moffat County can attend the community college on scholarship, thanks to voter approval from a mill levy allocation. That stipulation will sunset in 2008, but Pughe said the board plans to ask voters to renew it before that time.
The number of full-time students also has increased from last year. Ironically, although the nursing program has had some effect on the increasing graduation numbers, nursing students may have to pay more than the 25 percent increase of tuition costs next year.
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 will cost $105.
CNCC's program will pay 75 percent of the regular tuition, but not the differentiated amount. That means nursing students who are county residents will pay about $51 per credit.
"For locals, that's still a good deal," Vice President Dean Hollenbeck said.
While state budget cuts and declining classroom space has troubled school officials, they were still excited at the number of local graduates, Bilodeau said.
"As hectic as everything has been, it's exciting at the end of the year to see so many students graduate," he said. "That's what we want to be -- be there for the community."