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Students say tuition hike could put CCAC out of reach

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Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

Faced with a steep increase in tuition and fees this spring, scores of students from Allegheny County Community College brought their concerns to county council on Thursday night.

"The increase puts an undue burden on working-class families, on people who are already struggling to survive while working toward a better future," said Angela Elliston, 28, of Lawrenceville, who is raising her two children while she works and goes to school.

Elliston and other students involved in the college's student government spoke at a news conference prior to county council's scheduled budget hearing.

In September, the college's board of trustees unanimously approved increasing tuition this spring for the school's 30,000 students to make up for a $2.5 million loss in subsidies from the county.

The hike -- the second since May -- boosts tuition for the spring semester by 9.5 percent. Technology fees will go up 33.3 percent per credit, and the student services fees will double.

In May, CCAC increased tuition 2.3 percent, raised the technology fee 12.5 percent and added a $1 per credit services fee.

Some students fear that the costs could put college out of reach.

"I'm studying law, so I'm looking at seven years of college," said Mali'sa Branch, 19, a freshman from Forest Hills, who is working to pay her tuition. "I saw community college as the smart choice to avoid getting too deep into debt."

Councilman Matt Drozd, R-Ross, said CCAC should look for ways to reduce its expenses -- especially administrative costs -- and work to increase revenue through fund-raising. He also believes the state should reconsider taxing Marcellus shale drilling as a way to deal with a variety of budget woes.

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