Community college tuition and fees continue steady increase
Community college tuition and mandatory fees climbed an average of 5.95 percent this year, according to an annual report released by the Iowa Department of Education.
The Iowa Community Colleges Tuition and Fees Report showed that average tuition at Iowa’s 15 community colleges is $3,948 for the 2011-12 academic year. College mandatory fees average $339.
“Tuition and fees increased slightly less than the historical average this year,” Roger Utman, the administrator of the Iowa Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges, said.
The increase in tuition is lower than the 10-year average, but the cost to students remains relatively high. Because of tuition increases over the past decade, tuition and fees at Iowa community colleges were 60 percent above the national average in fiscal year 2009. Iowa is near the middle of the pack compared to other states in the region, however, ranking fourth-highest out of eight states. Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin were the bordering states with higher community college tuition and fees in fiscal year 2009.
Tuition and fees comprise a larger share of revenue for Iowa’s community colleges than ever before. More than half of general operating fund revenues were collected from tuition and fees in fiscal year 2010. Meanwhile, the share from state support has steadily declined since the 1990s to less than 29 percent of revenues, and local support has dwindled to an all-time low of 4.7 percent.
While community college tuition and fees continue to rise, they remain more than a third lower than the state’s three regent universities, and the colleges continue to remain an affordable path to higher education. Students often enroll at community colleges and later transfer to four-year universities.
Iowa’s 15 community colleges are comprehensive institutions with statutory missions of providing transfer-oriented arts and sciences programs, career and technical programs, adult education, customized job training, programming for high school students, developmental education and community services.
Community colleges have an “open door” admissions policy, which guarantees Iowans the opportunity for educational assistance and career development.