Bucks Increases Tuition by Another $5 Per Credit for Fall

Hal Conte

Tuition at Bucks will be raised by $5 per credit for county residents in the fall semester, bringing total tuition prices to $145 per credit and raising frustration among some students.
“College is expensive enough already guys, stop it,” said Luke Delavan, a psychology major. “It is definitely going to be a struggle for students who are already having trouble paying for classes.”
However, he added, “I wouldn’t know their financial situation.” According to college president Stephanie Shanblatt, the decision is being made to balance the budget.
“The college made some very difficult decisions in crafting this budget. Bucks continues to be a great value with strong academic programs and dedicated faculty and staff,” Shanblatt stated.
“Support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and from the County of Bucks, the college’s local sponsor, helped keep the tuition increase to only 3.6 percent.”
Administrators say that the overall increase for an in-county resident will be $120, assuming they are taking 24 credits, which is the amount the college recommends.
Tuition will also rise for out-of-county and out-of-state students, from $280 to $290 and from $420 to $435, respectively.
While some students expressed annoyance at the tuition hike, others were more ambivalent. “I know they did it for a reason,” said Anthony Consoli, a candidate for secretary of the Student Government. “I would just say that I hope they put that money to good use.”
Professors also had things to say about the tuition increase. Mark Cobb, a philosophy professor, expressed the hope that Bucks and other community colleges would eventually be free to attend. However, he recognized the difficulty of the college’s dilemma.
“It is hard for a particular school dealing with budgetary constraints to do anything really bold or progressive,” he said. “For me, I don’t feel like I have enough background information in order to say something definitive.”
Tuition rates at Bucks have been increased annually since at least 2003, according to information and stories from the Centurion’s archives. A chart on this page shows how tuition has gone from under $80 per credit in 2002 to the $145 rate to be implemented in the fall.
According to the government CPI (Consumer Price Index), these increases have exceeded the rate of inflation significantly. If prices had risen equally with inflation, the cost per credit would be less than $110.
State budget cuts have placed increasing pressure on community colleges. Both the previous governor, Tom Corbett, and the current governor, Tom Wolf, have overseen austerity programs targeting community college funding.
The State of Pennsylvania declined to raise funding for community colleges in its latest budget, keeping funding at the same levels that it was last year. The decision to increase tuition was made unanimously by the Board of Trustees on Thursday, April 13, 2017.
Student leaders say that they will try to make the best out of a challenging situation. “I personally understand that as a student it will never be pleasant for tuition to increase,” said Theodora Dagkli, a presidential candidate in the student government elections. “We are trying to get as much sponsorships as possible to reduce tuition or if we can’t do that, to help the students.”
Thomas Skiffington, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that all the options were looked at before they finally settled on raising tuiton.
“As always, our primary goal is to minimize tuition increases, and to do so only as a last option,” he said. “We are extremely reluctant to raise tuition, but take this measure only after every action possible to reduce operating costs has been made while continuing to provide the high quality education that has earned Bucks a national reputation.”