Our view: Affordable education right here at home | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Affordable education right here at home

At issue

Colorado Mountain College recently announced a modest tuition increase for the 2017-18 school year

Our view

Despite the slight increase, CMC remains one of Colorado’s best educational values, and we’re fortunate to have such an asset in our community

Among the defining issues of the recent presidential election was the rising cost of higher education and the tremendous student debt load many students must immediately shoulder as soon as they collect their college diplomas.

Our view

Despite the slight increase, CMC remains one of Colorado’s best educational values, and we’re fortunate to have such an asset in our community

And, with the results of that election, which ushered in a top-to-bottom ideological shift in the federal government, many past, current and aspiring college students are left to wonder about the future of higher education in the United States.

At this point, any speculation about the new administration’s net effect on higher education would be only that — speculation — but it seems reasonable to expect that higher educational expenses in the U.S. are likely to continue to increase.

That’s one reason we feel so fortunate to have an institution like Colorado Mountain College right here in our small, remote community, a college that offers quality education at truly affordable prices.

This might seem an odd stance to take, given the news the CMC Board of Trustees voted 4-2 Jan. 25 to increase tuition rates for the 2017-18 school year, but as increases go — and when one considers the cost of tuition at other institutions across the state and nation — the new rates seem quite modest and more than reasonable.

The change will increase in-district, associate-level courses by $3 per credit, service area and in-state associate level courses by $20 per credit and non-resident associate- and bachelor’s-level courses by $11 per credit.

Granted, these increases will be felt, but even factoring them into the overall educational equation, CMC is still among the most affordable colleges in the state and still offers in-district residents the third most-affordable bachelor’s degree in the country.

But CMC’s value extends well beyond its commitment to affordability.

First, CMC allows local students to attend the first two years of their college educations at home, then offers those students the option of completing certain bachelor’s degree programs here or transferring their CMC coursework to other four-year colleges across the state and nation.

According to CMC’s website, the college is a member of the statewide Guaranteed General Education Project, which guarantees transfer of credits to Colorado’s public colleges and universities.

This saves students and their families a tremendous amount of money, an important consideration when, on the average, U.S. college graduates enter the workforce carrying more than $35,000 in debt.

Second, CMC offers an abundance of courses relevant to our local resort economy, with programs in ski and snowboard business, resort management, science and outdoor education and sustainability studies, which can only serve as an enticement for our best and brightest new professionals to remain in the Yampa Valley.

And finally, CMC is intimately involved with the community as a whole, offering popular fitness classes, regularly hosting public events and acting as home to the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center, which assists students and community members in starting new small businesses.

At 4:30 p.m. Feb. 11, Steamboat will celebrate CMC’s 50-year anniversary with a reception and program on the third floor of the academic center, and we hope the community will turn out in droves to help our local college celebrate this milestone.

As for us, we congratulate CMC on half a century of providing quality, affordable educational opportunities to our community.

The overall future of education in the U.S. may be a hazy prospect, but given CMC’s performance during the past 50 years, we have great reason to hope for the next 50.

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