Budget troubles force YVCC to make more cuts, raise tuition

Budget troubles force YVCC to make more cuts, raise tuition
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Many students at the Yakima Valley Community College pay their own way through school. Without YVCC, they might have nowhere else to turn for an education.

Soon, getting that education will require them to dig deeper into their pockets.

Tuition increases approved by the state board mean full-time students will see a jump of 13% or nearly $500 more per year.

Part-time students will pay 11% more.

The tuition increase was approved to help offset $110-million in cuts to the state's community and technical college system.

Those hikes only add to the anxiety for YVCC students like Lance Mendoza.

"When you hear hear about tuition being increased you go, how am I going to have have to save extra money. Am I going to have those classes next, will I be able to afford them or am I going to have to save and come back next year," said Mendoza.

The changes don't stop there.

In addition to the tuition hikes, the YVCC Board of Trustees is bracing for a $600,000 cut to next year's budget.

The board proposes eliminating weekend classes as a way to save the college $100,000.

Other savings will come from employee benefit changes and energy savings from not having weekend classes.

Eva Chavez relies on those weekend classes to graduate.

"If I cannot take that class on weekends that means that I will put that class farther," said Chavez.

YVCC's president says hundreds of class selections have already been cut over the years.

The college has faced budget cuts every year since 2008, which have wiped out a third of the money it receives from the state.

Fewer class offerings and higher tuition rates will likely drive some students away.

"Some students are not going to be able to graduate as quickly as they had hoped and some students don't get in and have to wait until the next quarter," said YVCC President Linda Kaminski.

Kaminski says the tuition hike will help restore some weekday classes and support services.

However, if enrollment drops because of fewer classes, then the higher tuition will do little to increase revenue.

YVCC says students who receive state and Pell grants will be covered for the tuition increase.

There will be no cuts to the college's work study, state-need grants or running start programs.

Next year's budget will be adopted at the June board meeting.

YVCC students will also have to deal with other rising costs.

The Board of Trustees approved higher testing and class fees to take effect this summer.

Administrators say some of the fees haven't changed for more than a decade and need to cover the college's expenses.

One student KIMA spoke with says he won't mind paying more.

"I think it's past due actually. The equipment that we use does get broke and so to replace that there is a cost. The costs are going up but not the fees. So I think they're actually kind of balancing each other out now," said YVCC Student Brady Kent.

The college says the higher testing fees could end up saving students money.

Students have been charged for each test and now they will pay a one-time fee each session.