HOLYOKE — Citing the financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holyoke Community College (HCC) board of trustees voted to freeze student fees for the upcoming academic year. The vote was 8-0.
“This unanimous vote to freeze fees demonstrates our concern for the success of our students,” said Robert Gilbert, board chair. “They depend on us, and freezing costs when they’re facing grave economic uncertainty is the right thing to do. We’re trying to do everything we can to make it easier for students to come here, stay here, and succeed here.”
The vote locks HCC’s educational service fee at $188 per credit and the student service fee at $145 per semester for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1.
Over the past five years, HCC has raised fees by about 5% annually. Tuition for all community colleges in Massachusetts is set by the state. At HCC, tuition is $24 per credit, a number that has not changed in more than 10 years.
“Holyoke Community College is fortunate to have a board of trustees that recognizes the financial hardships brought on by this pandemic and understands that many of our students have been disproportionately impacted,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “The decision to freeze fees, as well as greater investments in student supports that address food insecurity, mental health, and digital equity, mean that students will have more resources and financial support to attend HCC now and in the future.”
Since the pandemic began, HCC has received more than $3.7 million in higher-education relief funds for direct student financial support. That has enabled HCC to provide $550 block grants to every student enrolled for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Those grants, and other incentives, are likely to be available again for the fall 2021 semester. In addition, HCC has received more than $7 million in stimulus money to cover additional expenses incurred during the pandemic.