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24.05.2004 Diaspora News

WCC tuition hike dismays students

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VALHALLA — A 20 percent tuition increase at Westchester Community College has some students worried about how they are going to pay for college in the fall.

For full-time students who are Westchester County residents, tuition will increase from $1,225 per semester to $1,475. For part-time students, it will rise from $103 per credit to $123. Nonresidents will pay $3,688 a semester, up from $3,063.

Emelia Owoo, a computer science major from Ghana who lives in Mount Vernon, said she didn't think her father could afford to pay more for her education. She said her textbooks alone cost $600 last semester.

"For me, it's going to be a lot of money," she said. "I don't get financial aid. ... I'll have to take a break from school and work hard."

The tuition increase is the largest in the 58-year history of the community college, which is part of the State University of New York system. The last tuition increase was 5 percent in 2002.

"We're proud that we were able to keep tuition that low for that long," college spokesman Patrick Hennessey said. "Historically, we've had one of the lowest tuition rates among community colleges in the state. This hike will put us toward the middle of the pack."

The increase is expected to generate about $5.4 million for the 2004-05 academic year. WCC's proposed budget includes $66.5 million for the main campus and $15.8 million for the satellite campuses.

Hennessey said the extra funds were needed to balance the budget amid rising costs of health and retirement benefits and an expected decrease in state aid. The college also is paying more for its extension sites, since the state halved the amount of rental reimbursement money this year, he said.

But students are more concerned about their own finances.