Grand Rapids Community College is freezing tuition for the 2021-22 academic year, part of an effort to make higher education affordable and accessible as West Michigan emerges from the pandemic.
President Bill Pink said the tuition freeze, approved unanimously March 15 by the board of trustees, reflects the focus on keeping a college education within reach at a time when many people in the community are experiencing financial challenges.
“Our world has changed in ways we could not have imagined a year ago,” he says. “New skills are going to be needed as our employers respond and get up to speed. A GRCC degree or certificate helps our residents get the education they need to reengage. We have always been the most affordable option for students. Our goal is to help as many people as possible.”
Tuition financing options
The freeze comes at a time when students have several options to attend with tuition covered by state and local programs. Michigan Reconnect is available for residents ages 25 and older who have not yet earned a degree. Futures for Frontliners
supports students who worked in essential jobs during the spring 2020 pandemic shutdown, and Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarships are for students graduating from a Grand Rapids high school.
Other students might be eligible for federal Pell Grants, which cover all expenses.
GRCC leaders have worked to keep tuition increases as small as possible. The tuition freeze follows a 1.7% increase last year, and 0.8% increases the two prior years.
“Our college has been fiscally responsible and an excellent steward of our resources,” board Chairman David Koetje says. “We are the community’s college. Our community invests in GRCC, and we are proud to provide a quality education that is affordable and accessible to students of all ages.”
The in-district tuition rate is $117 per contact hour, and the total cost for a full-time student will be $3,969 for the year. The freeze also applies to all universal fees.
Keeping cost affordable
The college has other approaches to keeping the cost of attending affordable. GRCC has partnerships throughout West Michigan with local school districts and intermediate school districts for Early/Middle College and dual and concurrent enrollment programs.
The Grand Rapids Community College Foundation also works with partners to help with expenses. Last year, the foundation awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships.
GRCC is preparing for a fall 2021 semester with more in-person classes and student services, a continued focus on safety — and a reflection of lessons learned for increased opportunities to serve students.
Grand Rapids Community College offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays, and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.
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