CBC students continue to pay extra tuition as state grapples to fix software

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Plans to install statewide software system at 34 community colleges delayed

Each year, full-time Washington community college students pay an extra $115.56 to upgrade their school’s computer software.

That includes students at Columbia Basin College.

The fee was supposed to lapse this December, but delays and cost overruns will keep the extra charge on the books for two or three more years — or possibly longer.

Tuition and fees for a full-time CBC student for three quarters are roughly $4,400.

Originally, the computer upgrades at CBC were supposed to be installed and running in January, with bugs then to be worked out as part of a statewide effort. Now, there is no new date set to install the new software at CBC due to a statewide delay in upgrades at most of Washington’s community colleges, said Tyrone Brooks, CBC’s vice president for administrative services.

About 186,650 of the state’s almost 381,000 community college students attend full time and are paying that extra $115 if they stay enrolled for an academic year. The remaining students attend part time.

In 2016, CBC enrolled 6,831 full-time and part-time students, which translated to the equivalent of 5,324 full-time students.

Three percent of each full-time and part-time student’s tuition goes toward the upgrade that has been in full swing since 2014, with a finish date projected for December 2016. Now, the completion date isn’t expected until 2019 or 2020, or later.

When all the work is done, the three percent portion of the students’ tuition costs is supposed to be removed.

The State Board of Community & Technical Colleges greenlighted in 2010 the installation of a new central software system for administration, academics, student finances, enrollments, payrolls and other data across all 34 of the state’s community colleges. In 2010, all of the state’s community colleges used 30-year-old software written in Cobalt, an outdated coding language.

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John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a longtime Pacific Northwest reporter. He is a jack-of-all-trades freelancer with expertise in a variety of topics, including the Hanford nuclear reservation, state government, the environment, science and crime.

View all posts by John Stang