Talks of tuition changes might be in PRCC’s future

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2016

After the special election in Pearl River County, questions of what will change in the area loomed. Recently, universities and colleges like the University of Southern Mississippi lowered out-of-state tuition to raise revenue and improve programs offered to enrolled students. USM recently decreased its non-resident annual tuition from $16,094 to $9,854, a 40 percent decrease. In comparison, out-of-state tuition at Mississippi State University is $20,032 and $20,574 at the University of Mississippi, according to Mississippi Today.

Pearl River Community College has not announced any plans to lower tuition, but Dr. Adam Breerwood, PRCC Vice President, said the conversation is open for the foreseeable future.

“This is something that I personally would like to see because it brings diversity to the campuses,” Breerwood said. “However, it must go through state legislation before we can have an official discussion on it.”

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Breerwood said the state sets what each college charges for tuition, but if non-resident tuition was to be lowered in the future, he forecasts plenty of benefits for all parties involved.

Current in-state tuition for PRCC is $1,425 per semester. The out-of-state tuition is an additional $1,199 per semester. If students do not take 15 hours of classes per week, then the tuition is charged by the credit hour at PRCC, which Breerwood said is $125 per credit hour.

“We have not raised [tuition] for as long as I can remember. This is a very valuable conversation to have and we will be furthering that later in the year,” Breerwood said.

Some benefits that result from lowering out-of-state tuition at the community college include expanding programs and facilities, an increase in diversity and a better atmosphere to prepare students for the future, Breerwood said.

Breerwood described PRCC as a “melting pot,” which brings different backgrounds together into one cohesive campus.

“We take great pride in diversity and different backgrounds here at PRCC. We got people that want to be welders and all the way to those in pre-med school,” Breerwood said. “This brings a unique opportunity to introduce people from different cultures and prepare them for society.”

Breerwood said that students recruited in Mississippi are what “hold the nucleus together” and builds traditions at the community college. Out-of-state recruits are what Breerwood said could expand the college and bring potential to form a strong alumni representation across the entire region.

“If we can get people to come down here, I think they would stay. We aren’t looking for increases in enrollment numbers, we want to build a community at our campuses that the students are a part of and might be a part of long after they graduate,” Breerwood said.

The main challenge Breerwood said the community college faces is that the state sets the tuition, but after the newly elected representative from the district 106 special election gets settled in his new position, Breerwood expects the conversation to appear.