FARMINGTON — Diné College will increase its tuition this fall for the first time in 10 years.
Officials say the changes in rates and fee structures reflect increases in operating expenses and losses in federal funding.
In a board meeting May 17, the college's Board of Regents approved a single $55 tuition rate that will apply to all degree and certificate programs. The tuition rate for the previous school year was $30 per credit hour and $120 per credit hour for the elementary education bachelor's degree program.
The changes will affect all Diné College campuses — the main one in Tsaile, Ariz., and five branches, including one in Shiprock and Crownpoint. The other campuses are in Chinle, Window Rock and Tuba City, all in Arizona.
Ron Belloli, the college's vice president of administration and finance, said the new tuition rate keeps up with inflation and is the result of increased operating expenses and the loss of federal funding due to budget sequestration, or automatic spending cuts.
"We've been reducing our budget to accommodate things, but you eventually need an additional source of funding," Belloli said.
A part-time student who paid $180 for six credit hours last semester will pay $330 next semester in tuition costs. Full-time students who paid $360 last semester will pay $660 in the fall.
Belloli said the college's last tuition increase was in the fall 2004 semester, when the cost was raised from $25 to $30 per credit hour. Before the board voted on the recent increase, Belloli said there was extensive internal analysis, and interviews were conducted with students. The school also hosted a forum to discuss the changes with students.
Malcolm Long, a health occupation student, said the tuition rate change may be a hardship for students, especially for those who are supporting themselves.
"I'll be able to adjust," Long said. "It's my last semester."
Belloli said the tribal college receives the majority of its funding from the federal government. After the sequester, the college has received less money for the current fiscal year, and officials don't expect to see the money return for the upcoming fiscal year.
"We assume these decreases are going to remain," Belloli said.
Figures for the college's current and previous federal funding were unavailable, said Diné College spokesman Cuyler Frank.
The college board last month also approved eliminating the $20 registration fee for prospective students.
Belloli said most colleges and universities don't have a registration fee, and the move puts Diné College in line with traditional higher education institutes in the country.