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CCAC Students Demand Tuition Freeze

Students of the Community College of Allegheny County protested the school's impending tuition hikes on Friday.

About fifteen students of various ages petitioned CCAC President Alex Johnson to freeze tuition rates at Fall 2011 levels, presenting administrators with a large placard filled out with dozens of students' signatures.

The students say they've already finalized their financial aid packages for the entire academic year, so the January 2012 tuition increases will represent out-of-pocket costs for almost every one of them.

But student and mother of three Candy Sanchez said she doesn't blame the college's administration for the higher costs.

"CCAC cares about their students, so they're very not happy about this either," said Sanchez. "This is all the state. This is all the government. This has nothing to do with CCAC, not at all, and this is just a shame."

CCAC leaders said they were forced to raise tuition and close the school's Downtown campus, after the school absorbed multi-million dollar budget cuts at the state and county levels.

Student Government Association representative Mali'sa Branch said if tuition hikes are unavoidable, she'd like to see more services offered to students as recompense, like bus passes and dormitories.

"It's not uncommon right now, actually, for a community college to have dorms, to have that luxury," said Branch. "I think Pittsburgh is the only place where we don't have a community college that doesn't have dorms. I've actually done my research, when I was looking to go to community college, and Pittsburgh's the only one that doesn't. If you go to California, or anywhere else, they have dorms."

In response to state and county budget cuts, CCAC has also refinanced bonds, frozen hiring, and cut extraneous costs.

(in photo: CCAC administrative officials accept a student petition to freeze tuition rates as security guards look on.)