Full-time Red Deer College students could pay more than $1,300 a year in tuition and fee increases in 2021-22.
RDC announced on Monday it was boosting tuition by seven per cent this fall — $134.75 per credit from just under $126 last year. That is the maximum tuition increase allowed each year under provincial rules set when the Alberta government lifted a tuition freeze in 2019.
Hitting students even harder will be an increase to the faculty, service and technology fee to $45 per credit from $11. A student taking a full five-course, 15-credit course load who paid $330 last year will have to come up with another $1,020 this school year.
“Students are obviously disappointed that the cost of education is increasing for the third year in a row,” said Brittany Lausen, RDC Students’ Association president.
“In hard economic times, paying another seven per cent is definitely going to be a challenge for many, many students, which is unfortunate.”
The tuition and fee increases will be a significant hit on the budgets of students already facing higher rental bills and other cost-of-living increases.
Rising post-secondary education costs will not surprise many students.
In February’s provincial budget, 5.4 per cent less funding was provided to post-secondary institutions in Alberta. These higher education institutions were expected to increase their contributions by 2.3 per cent. About 750 post-secondary jobs are to be eliminated this academic year, mostly through attrition.
“The institution has to get money from somewhere if it is not coming from the province,” said Lausen. “It is unfortunate that it falls on the backs of students.”
RDC president Peter Nunoda said the decision to raise fees was not taken lightly and came after “considerable consultation” with student representatives. Depending on course load, students could see tuition increases of about $300 per term or $600 per year.
“We understand the challenges that increasing tuition and fees presents to our students and we are pleased to provide a range of supports, as well as a growing amount of scholarships and bursaries, to assist them as they invest in their post-secondary education,” says Nunoda in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring that post-secondary education in central Alberta remains accessible.”
RDC provides more than $1 million in scholarships and awards to students each year, through the support of donors. Additional community, government and other scholarships are also available for students.
More than 1,300 students each year will receive funding support through RDC’s recently announced Student Bursary Fund. Full-time students are eligible for up to $1,500 and part-time students $750.
RDC froze fees from 2015-19. In the 2019 provincial budget, post-secondary education grants were slashed by nearly eight per cent and tuition increases up to seven per cent per year up to 2022-23 were approved.
The college continues to offer students options by offering more courses online or through hy-flex delivery, which allows students to attend online or in-person.
“As we continue to make decisions for RDC’s next academic year, we will continue to seek efficiencies in our operations while ensuring that we continue to provide value for our students with quality applied learning opportunities and access to a wide range of services as they pursue their educational goals,” says Nunoda.
RDC expects about 6,200 full-and part-time credit and apprenticeships students will enrol for the 2020/2021 academic year. RDC also provides lifelong learning opportunities to 34,000 youth and adult learners annually in the School of Continuing Education, which is housed in Red Deer’s Millennium Centre.