NorthWest Arkansas Community College in-district tuition will increase 5.3% beginning this fall, and all fees will rise. The college’s board of trustees approved the higher tuition and fee schedules on Monday (March 14).
The increase includes raising in-district tuition from $75 to $79 per credit hour. It’s the first adjustment for in-district tuition rate since 2013. The board said the increase in revenue from the higher tuition will help the college offset rising costs due inflation and tight labor force. A fulltime in-district student carrying 15 credit hours will see their tuition bill rise to $1,185, before fees. Students enrolled this semester for 15 hours incurred a tuition bill of $1,125.
“We never take tuition and fee increases lightly, which is why we have not raised in-district tuition since 2013,” said NWACC President Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson. “However, even as frugal as we’ve been, we now find that the cost of operating has continued to escalate, and we must raise our tuition and fees. It’s important to us that we continue to provide the excellent quality of higher education for which we are known.”
College officials said there are several factors affecting the budget including reduced enrollment, increased costs in professional and technical programs, historically high inflation rates, ongoing facilities construction and maintenance costs. Al Massri, NWACC vice president of finance and administration, said a tight labor market in the region has created a challenge to recruit and retain talent.
“Since 2013 to the present, the cumulative inflation rate has been almost 17%,” said Massri. “An item which would cost $100 in 2013 costs $117 today, so we have worked extensively to keep the college’s tuition and fees low despite those rising costs, and even that does not account for the historic spike in inflation we’ve seen in recent months. This additional revenue will help us continue to provide an accessible education at the same level of quality that the community has come to expect from NWACC.”
The tuition increases also include an out-of-district price hike of 7.4% from $135 to $145 per credit hour. Out-of-state tuition rates will increase from $150 per credit hour to $164, rising 9.3% from current rates. International tuition rates will rise to $215 per credit hour, up from $195 rising 10.25%, according to the release.
Fees will also increase across the board. Registration fee will rise to $15, up from $10. Students will also be asked to pay a higher infrastructure fee of $60, compared to the $55 charged now. Technology fee will go from $12.25 to $15 per credit hour. The student health and safety fee from $3 to $5 per credit hour this fall.
The distance learning fee will rise from $43 to $45 per course. The culinary program lab fee will rise from $295 to $325 per course and the music studio fee will be $30 this fall, up from $27.75 per course. Malpractice insurance fee required for Center for Health Professionals will rise from $15 to $20 this coming school year.
NWACC reports declining enrollment of 5% last year with 7,037 students for 2021. Enrollment fell 11.6% in 2020 with 7,411 students. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, NWACC reported 8,283 students, up 5.1% from 2018.
NWACC reported 6,402 students were enrolled this spring semester, according to preliminary numbers the school provided in February. The number is down compared with 6,784 students as of the 11th day of classes during the spring 2021 semester. Spring followed a fall 2021 enrollment of 7,037, a 5% drop from the fall 2020 enrollment of 7,411, according to the college.
Jorgenson will retire June 30. The college has said the board plans to select a new president in April from a short list of candidates referred from the search firm, Association of Community College Trustees out of Washington, D.C.