The president of the Students’ Association of Red Deer College worries how many of her members will make ends meet.
RDC is facing a $3.6-million funding cut following last week’s provincial budget announcement, and as a result, the cost of tuition will rise. That follows a $1.2 million cut in its operational funding last fall.
“I think students are worried about where they’re going to be getting tuition money from, or living expenses from, because everything will be going up.
“The students association and students were of course worried about the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary in the future,” Brittany Lausen said Tuesday afternoon.
The association is attempting to address financial need with the expansion of the student food bank, its free breakfast program and scholarships, she added.
College president Peter Nunoda said Monday the tuition increase will likely be in the range of the seven per cent allowed by the province, when it dropped a freeze on instruction fees last year.
Lausen said a tuition increase wasn’t completely unexpected.
“Students never expected the tuition freeze to carry on forever, which is why we advocated strongly for tuition to increase at the rate of inflation,” said Lausen.
“That way, as the cost of goods increase, so does tuition, so that it’s not such a large, drastic increase for students all at once. That’s what we wanted to avoid.”
Tuition at RDC has ranged from $3,200 to $7,900 per year, depending on the program and courses. A seven per cent increase means a student would pay $225 to $555 more, or an average of about $390.
The students’ association recommended a “cascading tuition model,” featuring increases of seven, six and five per cent over the next three years, instead of the provincially permitted seven per cent each year, said Lausen.
This would help tuition costs “stay in line with post-secondary being more affordable, instead of increasing costs 21 per cent,” said Lausen.
“We hope to be in conversation and potentially change their minds in future years. We’re always willing to work with the institution to create more affordability in post-secondary.”
RDC will also look to boost revenues to make up for the funding cut. The college has stepped up its marketing toward international students and hopes to attract 500 new students from abroad.