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GCC holds-off on tuition hike

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Unlike students who attend the University of Guam, Guam Community College students are in the clear for any potential tuition hikes. But, they'll be seeing cuts elsewhere.

It's only the start of Fiscal Year 2013, and it's already looking grim for GCC. The Mangilao school originally requested $20 million, but was appropriated $15.7 million - $2.3 million of which is held as part of Governor Eddie Calvo's 15 percent reserve directive. According to GCC president Mary Okada, for the past two years, the college has survived shortcomings in the Government of Guam General Fund by using funds from their Manpower Development Fund, funding derived when construction workers or H-2 workers are brought into Guam.

Annually, this brings in $1,000 per worker, 70 percent of which goes to the college and the remainder to the Department of Labor. Typically the funds are used to support apprenticeship-related operations.

But this funding came short last fiscal year too, meaning GCC won't be able to use the money as part of their FY2013 General Fund.

Okada told KUAM News, "The amount that the college receives is based on collections. For the previous Fiscal Year 2012, the fund experienced a shortfall or the college experienced a shortfall in the tune of about $600,000, which is unanticipated because initially the appropriated amount is $1.6 million and there was a 15 percent reserve set on the account, brought it down to $1.4 million. But based on actual collections, we're not able to receive $600,000."

The college is determined to keep tuition down, despite shortcomings. Okada says their $13.7 million budget for this fiscal year will meet the minimum for salaries and utility bills with no money left for supplies or other services, including ground maintenance.

"Right now, we're not anticipating that we're going to put anything forward for a tuition increase. We had a tuition increased planned for many years. The last of the increase was supported by our students under the condition that the increase went to serve for certain things," Okada continued. "I think the students have a lot of confidence in what we've been able to do because we basically set aside money from the tuition increase to increase the number of faculty, increase the number of staff and administrators to meet the increased number of students but also use that money for repairs and maintenance to the facilities to make sure that when they go into the computer lab that the Internet is working that there's supplies."

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