Though the Community College of Allegheny County is on firm financial footing, administrators should cut back on big tuition hikes, county Controller Chelsa Wagner said today.
In an audit running from 2008 to 2011, the controller's office found little to criticize in CCAC's $140 million annual budget. But a pattern of stop-and-go tuition increases -- flat one year, up 11 percent the next -- have made it difficult for students to know what they'll be paying from semester to semester, the audit said.
In 2006, 2009 and 2010, tuition stayed flat. But those years alternated with sharp increases: 3 percent in 2007, 4 percent in 2008 and 11 percent in 2011.
If the college had opted for regular but more gradual tuition hikes, students likely could have made up the difference in federal aid, the audit found.
Allegheny County contributed $25 million to the community college's budget last year. Since 2011, the county has agreed to increase its contribution by at least 2 percent annually, which the college has said should help moderate tuition hikes.
The controller's office also targeted fundraising, saying CCAC should apply for more matching federal grants and refrain from putting restrictions on incoming donations. The audit singled out a recent $400,000 donation that originally came without strings but was later restricted to the college's West Hills facility at the administration's request.
Among the audit's other suggestions: improving employee evaluations; tightening regulations on travel and expenses; and brightening up the campus bookstore.
Andrew McGill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1497.