The Mohave Community College governing board has approved a five-year tuition increase.
The current rate of $24 per credit hour and $10 per credit hour fee will be replaced by a flat rate tuition schedule.
Arizona students will pay $38 per credit hour during fiscal 2003-2004 with subsequent annual increases of $4 per credit hour to $54 for 2007-2008.
Out-of-state students currently pay $45 for one credit hour, $80 for two credit hours and $115 for three credit hours.
Under the new schedule, out-of-state students will pay a flat rate of $114 per credit hour.
"We must identify and capture dollars for a number of things, one of which is the increased cost that will hit us next year in health care," college President Thomas Henry said after the board's decision Monday.
"We'll also have increased costs to the budget for retirement and maintenance and are already about $600,000 in arrears on deferred maintenance."
Good Neighbor students from Clark County, Nev., and Kane and Washington counties in Utah will be on the same tuition schedule as in-state residents next school year.
They presently pay $34 per credit hour.
Students in the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program also will have to come up with more dollars next year.
Their continuing education at Mohave Community College will cost $57 per credit hour, compared with the present $46 rate.
Western Undergraduate Exchange Program students come from Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
They study at MCC through an agreement with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
"If our projections hold on enrollment and credit hours, in the first year of the increase we should raise an additional $500,000, and what that means is that the share of operating costs paid by the student will go from 9.8 percent to 11.9 percent in fiscal year 2004," Henry said.
"The projection over five years is to move from a 9.8 percent student share up to 16.9 percent in the fifth year.
The students' share should be 20 to 25 percent and we're a long way from that."
Despite the increase, tuition at MCC will remain the lowest in the region, Henry said
"We have up to $4,000 per year (per student) in Pell grants available, and for some reason in this county that resource is vastly underused," he said.
"The tuition increases will not impede a student's ability to go to Mohave Community College."
Having "unrealistic" tuition and fee schedules for almost a decade hampered campus growth and improvement, Henry said during a Nov.
12 board meeting.
"I've not had one criticism of this step and our trustees have not received any calls about it so I think people understand and expect this," he said this week.
Henry said the tuition increase is a small first step in getting students to bear their fair share for a higher education.
It and better management of resources should lead to cost savings in the future that will improve the college's financial picture, he added.