The state's budget crunch is hitting home for area colleges. Because of cuts in state funding, Tyler Junior College has lost 1.3 million dollars in funding, effective immediately. With the state's budget crisis coming right into his office, TJC President Dr. William Crowe is understandably concerned.
"I'm afraid if we're not careful," Dr. Crowe says, "we're going to change and we won't have those institutions where individuals who won't get served have the chance to really better themselves."
The effect is immediate. In addition to raising student fees, the school's mini-mester in May is cancelled, even though more than fifty students had already signed up. Summer classes will have higher minimum sizes, and there's an immediate freeze on travel and hiring.
Effective immediately, tuition and fees are raised for students. An in-district student taking twelve hours in the fall will have to pay increased tuition, parking fees, and health services fees that will raise the semester cost more than one hundred dollars. According to Dr. Crowe, more cuts may be on the way for next year's budget. Traditionally, junior and community colleges do well during difficult economic times. However, another round of cuts might raise tuition even further.
Students were nervous, to say the least. For Sheryl Reeves, the cuts make her nervous for herself and her five children.
"It's the only way I can attend school at my age with a family," she says, "And it'll give my children a good start with what they do."
Some students, such as Ashley Barrows, pointed the blame at the state.
"They claim how important education is," Ashley says, "And then they cut money from schools. It's kind of hypocritical."
Dr. Crowe agrees that this is a tough situation.
"Everybody brags about junior colleges," he says, "We're one of the state's priorities, and then they come to do these cuts they just do them across the board."