ECC Plans Tuition Hike

June 18, 2012 Updated Jun 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

June 18, 2012 Updated Jun 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) Community colleges are known for being a more cost effective way to get a degree, but one of the most popular in the area, Erie Community, is looking to jack up tuition rates, again.

Erie Community College officials blame a lack of government funding for this latest proposed increase. It's the fourth straight year the school has approved a hike in tuition, making it tough for students looking for a reasonably priced education.

"I did not know this, and I don't think a lot of students know."

Word of a possible tuition hike comes as a shock to student Rokeifa Roberts, who says she's not happy about paying more for her community college education. As part of a new proposed budget, tuition at ECC is set to go up by three hundred dollars per year, to a total of $3900.

"Our funding has been held flat or decreased from the state and other places for the last four or five years, so it is a difficult time for all community colleges there is no question," ECC President Jack Quinn said.

"My concern is, as always, is that the college uses its scarce resources appropriately," Faculty Federation of ECC President Andrew Sako said.

Monday at a public meeting of the County Legislature, faculty and college representatives showed their support for the new budget. They say costs have gone up, but government aid hasn't.

"We are not opposed to the budget in any way shape or form. We are concerned about priorities and spending," Sako said.

That includes hiring new faculty members, and the proposed expansion of the college on one of the three campuses.

So recently, costs have been handed down to the students. Over the last five years, tuition has gone up more than 25 percent, including the latest hike in this year's budget.

"We're still the most affordable higher education, and when we look at the rest of the community colleges in the state, we are about in the middle of about 30 colleges. So we don't believe that we are overpriced, and we don't think that we're cheap education, this is quality education," Quinn said.

But it's still a tough sell to students.

"So if you raise my tuition, what do I get back? Do I get a free credit, a half of a credit? What is going on that they need to raise it? And to not tell any of the students," Rokeifa Roberts said.

If the budget is approved by the county and passed, which is likely given the amount of support it has received from the school and its three unions, the tuition increase will take effect in the fall.