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GRCC waiving online fees for classes in effort to keep college affordable in challenging times

June 15, 2020 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is waiving online fees for courses offered through distance learning during the 2020-2021 academic year as part of a $112.9 million budget approved unanimously by trustees today, part of an effort to keep college as affordable as possible during challenging times.

The move 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.

Board of trustees Chairman David J. Koetje said the budget is a fiscally responsible and sustainable plan at a time of great uncertainty. State aid is a large part of GRCC’s funding, and lawmakers have not yet set a budget for the next fiscal year. The budget was built anticipating a 15 percent reduction in state aid.

“While there is much we do not know, we can be certain GRCC will not waiver from its mission of providing a quality, affordable education to the people of West Michigan,” Koetje said. “GRCC provides opportunities for people of all ages to enhance and even transform their lives through education.”  

The college is waiving online fees for distance learning courses as campus leaders work toward a plan to return for some on-campus instruction for the Fall 2020 semester, in addition to a robust schedule of hybrid and enhanced distance learning options.

GRCC is exploring all options to safely offer some classes on campus, while continuing to work with state and local authorities and follow recommendations to safely emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re proud to be the place this community turns to in times of great need,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “We are making difficult decisions as we await learning about our state funding. But we are not compromising on our goal of keeping a quality college education within reach for everyone in a safe environment, whether they are looking for credits for degrees or to transfer, or for career skills leading to good jobs.”

Tuition and fees account for about half the college’s revenue. In April, trustees unanimously approved a 1.7 percent tuition increase for the 2020-2021 academic year, keeping tuition increases under 2 percent for the third consecutive year.

The in-district tuition rate of $117 per contact hour is a 1.7 percent increase -- $2 per contact hour -- from the 2019-2020 rate. The total cost for a fulltime student will be $3,969 for the year.

Even with the tuition increase, students eligible for a full Pell Grant award will have more than $2,300 available to cover textbooks and other educational expenses, an available balance that is a full $90 more than last year.

The college has other approaches to keeping the cost of attending affordable.

The upcoming academic year will be the first accepting students through the Grand Rapids Promise Zone, enabling them to gain a quality education at no cost to them.

GRCC has partnerships throughout West Michigan with local school districts and intermediate school districts for Early/Middle College and dual and concurrent enrollment programs. About 1,670 high school students take post-secondary classes at GRCC for free.

The Grand Rapids Community College Foundation also is working with partners to help with college expenses. Last year, the foundation awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships.

Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college -- and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.


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