By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

The Central Texas College board of trustees unanimously approved a price increase for dormitory room and board Thursday, effective by the fall 2009 semester.

The rate will increase by $110 from the current $1,650 a semester for the spring and fall to $1,760. The summer semester rate will climb from $1,165 to $1,210.

Michele Carter, director of business services, said the price boost was necessary because of a daily meal rate increase. Every student residing in the dorms is required to have a meal plan through the school that is covered by room and board.

"Currently we contract out our food service operation and under the terms of the contract for the fall semester, the daily meal rate increased. As a result we need to increase that portion of our room and board rate," she said. "We don't do these increases arbitrarily. We are a community college."

CTC currently has 106 residents in its dorms for the spring semester. The dorms typically house about 120 students in the fall and 40 to 50 students in the summer, Carter said.

CTC last raised its room and board rate in 2007 from $1,570 to $1,650 due to increased utility costs.

New program for soldiers in transition

Also at Thursday's meeting, the board approved a budget increase of $243,000 to provide funding through the end of August for a new Fort Hood college program called Troops2Roughnecks. The board also approved an additional $567,000 for the Troops2Truckers and Troops2Roughknecks programs at Camp Pendleton.

These programs are a part of the Army Vocational/Technical pilot program, also known as AVOTEC. The short-term, federal program is designed to expand educational opportunities for active-duty soldiers by providing training in high-demand career fields, according to the CTC Web site.

It was created to help soldiers transition from the Army to civilian life, and obtain a steady, high-paying job. All active-duty soldiers, including the National Guard and Army Reserve, are eligible for the program.

"We do well with college enrollment, but there's that other population of soldiers we should focus on as well," said Elizabeth Crismale, college program manager for the education services division at Fort Hood. "We're trying to make the vocational programs more accessible to soldiers in transitioning, and AVOTEC links into that. Some want to be truck drivers, or a nursing assistant, and that doesn't require a full two years of college."

AVOTEC offers certificate-based courses in four areas of study: truck driving, nursing assistant, pharmacy technician, and introduction to petroleum. Courses range from three to eight weeks and cost between $500 to $4,295.

All courses end in a license or certification of some kind. The classes do not count toward credit hours or a degree plan.

Funding for the pilot program began Feb. 1 and will end on Sept. 30. Each soldier is given a maximum of $4,500 in tuition assistance to use for AVOTEC. Any tuition assistance money used this fiscal year will be subtracted from the $4,500 cap. For more information about the AVOTEC program, call the Fort Hood Soldier Development Center at (254) 287-8126.

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