Community college students likely to pick up the tab for building projects

02/03/2014 05:25 PM

Gov. Steve Beshear and the head of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System on Monday defended the proposal to take on $145 million in debt for 16 building projects at the college campuses.

Michael McCall, the president of the KCTCS who is retiring later this year, said the cost will have to fall to students, although officials hope it will be no more than $8 per credit-hour for the 92,000 students.

Post-secondary education has taken some deeply budgeted cuts to the tune of 15 percent over the last six years. And public four-year universities and the community college system would take another 2.5 percent cut, according to Beshear’s proposed budget.

While budgets keep shrinking, McCall said the 16 schools he represents need facility upgrades. Beshear proposed a total of $194 million in construction projects, 75 percent of which will be covered by the colleges. The other 25 percent must come from private donations or local communities, Beshear has said. But he stressed that taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay anything.

“Any concern about debt and impact on Kentucky’s general fund is misplaced,” Beshear said.

Instead, it falls to students. McCall told reporters that a “capital fee” will be assessed to students” by adding $8 per credit hour per student. McCall said that they will likely phase in the increase to students over the course of two-years starting this fall with $4 per credit hour.

Students may also be looking at an increase in tuition, but McCall said it “depends on what ends up coming out of the budget.”

“We’re certainly concerned about the operating costs continuing to go up,” McCall said.

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