GRCC is freezing tuition rates for freezes tuition rates for the 2021-22 academic year. GRCC/Andrew Schmidt
Grand Rapids Community College is taking steps to hold the line on costs in an effort to keep education accessible and affordable for residents as West Michigan emerges from the pandemic.
GRCC trustees approved a budget on June 21 that freezes tuition rates for the 2021-22 academic year. The $115.4 million budget also waives online class fees for the fall semester and retains single swipe parking fees to help students access classes and services without paying more to park.
“Our world has changed in many ways since most of our students were on campus, and we are working to support them as they face new challenges,” board of trustees Chair David Koetje says. “This budget reflects our commitment to ensuring that students of all ages across West Michigan have access to the quality education they’ll need to move forward.”
State, local programs
The tuition freeze comes at a time when students also have several options to attend with education costs 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.
Students not eligible for Michigan Reconnect, Futures for Frontliners, or Promise Zone may still qualify for a Pell grant or for one of the many GRCC-related scholarships available to students.
“We embrace our mission of being the place West Michigan turns to in times of need,” GRCC President Bill Pink says. “This budget demonstrates our focus on our community — students, and also our partners and employers. We are creating more and different opportunities for people so they can find their place in our recovering region.”
Campuses preparing to open
GRCC’s new Lakeshore Campus in Holland Township opens in August, providing greater access to quality programs to Ottawa County residents. Renovation work is nearing completion across the downtown Grand Rapids campus, adding improved classroom and study space and well and better access to services, all focused on helping students enroll, learn, and be successful.
GRCC leaders have worked to make tuition increases as small as possible to keep education affordable. The tuition freeze follows a 1.7% increase last year, and 0.8% increases in the two prior years.
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.
The college has other approaches to keep a college education within reach. 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.
Waiving online course fees for the fall semester will save students $16 per contact hour, or about $50 for a three-credit class. Students would still be responsible for tuition and other universal fees.
Parking fee changes
GRCC also is changing its parking fee structure, allowing students to pay once a day, making it easier for them to get to classes and services at the college’s two downtown campuses.
Students can use their RaiderCard to swipe into a lot and pay $3.50, then have unlimited access to parking lots on the Main Campus and DeVos Campus for the remainder of the day. Previously, students were charged $3.50 each time they exited a lot.
The move is intended to save students money at a time when many face financial challenges related to the coronavirus crisis, and prevent parking costs from being a factor in their decision to take a class or access programs.
It also recognizes that students often attend classes, leave campus for home or work responsibilities, and then return. The move also makes it easier for them to access classes and support services on both downtown campuses.