PORTLAND - Community colleges around the state are expected to approve midyear tuition hikes because of declines in state support.

But Blue Mountain Community College President Travis Kirkland said the college is not considering another tuition increase this year.

"The only thing that would drive us to do that is a significant reduction in projected revenues," he said, adding that the college has "what it needs to maintain its cash flow for the year."

Blue Mountain Community College hiked its tuition costs by $8 per credit beginning with the summer term. Students pay $50 per credit now - up from $42 per credit.

Klamath, Clackamas and Tillamook Bay have approved tuition increases for the winter term. At least six two-year schools are considering them.

The colleges, which would still be much cheaper than four-year schools, have struggled to balance their budgets since the Legislature began cutting their appropriation because of the recession. Since the end of the 2001 legislative session, state money has been trimmed by nearly $16 million. The colleges could lose another $14 million if voters reject an income tax increase in January.

"My sense is that things are going to get worse before they get better," said Jesus "Jess" Carreon, president of Portland Community College. "We are trying to hold the line and not make dramatic changes in tuition, but I have told student leaders that tuition and fee increases are a very real possibility in the future."

Carreon said PCC will not raise tuition this year, but students applying starting winter term will face a $25 application fee, the first ever. The college expects to raise $400,000 a year with the new fee.

Oregon's four-year public colleges have already announced they'll be raising tuition midyear if the Jan. 28 tax surcharge fails. Community college leaders say they must raise tuition regardless of the tax vote.

Community college enrollment usually increases during recessions, when people return to campus for new job skills. Tuition covers only 20 to 25 percent of the cost of educating those students.

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