Holding Down Cost of College

Community and technical colleges throughout West Virginia may have to increase tuition substantially during the next few years, state legislators were told this week. It was suggested to them they ought to consider some means of helping students cover the cost of educations at those institutions.

James Skidmore, chancellor of the state Community and Technical College Council, said higher education tuition increases are a national problem. “At some point, we’ll have to decide in West Virginia how high we’ll go on tuition increases and not price (some students) out of the market,” he added.

Community and technical colleges have a record of holding costs down much better than their counterparts at four-year colleges and universities. As we have pointed out frequently, that makes community and technical colleges an incredible bargain.

Tuition at West Virginia Northern Community College, with campuses in Wheeling, Weirton and New Martinsville, is just $1,200 a semester for fulltime students. That makes it possible for a high school graduate to get an associate degree for just $4,800 in tuition payments – or get a bargain-basement, yet high-quality, start on a four-year degree at another institution.

Still, Skidmore has a point. For many people, especially those who have lost jobs and are trying to obtain training to get new ones, even $1,200 a semester can seem like a lot.

Some legislators listening to Skidmore’s report seemed receptive to the idea of finding ways to help some community and technical college students with the cost of attendance. Good. Legislators, working with two-year college officials from throughout the state, should pursue the proposal.