FREEPORT (WIFR) — The Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved a $10 per-credit-hour tuition increase during its March 19 meeting. The first reading at the March 6 Board retreat had originally proposed a $15 increase. However, a final determination was made for the Fall 2013 semester after input from students, resulting in a new $115 per-credit-hour tuition rate.
Trustees moved forward on the initiative primarily due to decreased state and local revenue. Traditionally, the three main components of the College’s operating budget are state unrestricted grants, property taxes, and tuition and fees, funded by an equal share of these three sources. With state funding now contributing only 12 percent to the HCC operating fund, Vice President of Administrative Services Jill Janssen explained that the increase of $10 per credit hour would help offset reductions in state funding and local property values. For FY13, Highland is expecting local property taxes to contribute to 46 percent, with the remaining 36 percent of revenue generated from tuition and fees.
“The College has experienced declining revenue from the State in recent years, amounting to a reduction of about $500,000 over the course of the last three fiscal years,” said Janssen. “Highland aims to maintain the overall tax rate at a consistent level from year to year, however this effort to maintain a consistent tax rate now results in decreased local tax revenue because of lower property values in the district.”
Janssen also noted that From FY11 to budgeted FY13, expenses are expected to grow only about .4 percent. The College has taken steps to control costs through a reduction in contractual services, capital equipment, employee travel and training, and utilities, as well as renegotiation of certain employee benefits.
In other news, trustees approved:
• the appointment Ms. Katherine Perkins as the full-time English Composition Instructor, and Ms. Melissa Entzminger as the new Speech Communication Instructor, beginning in the Fall 2013.
• a new Industrial Training Associate of Applied Science degree, created in partnership with the regional Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 23, to fulfill an increasing need for qualified welders in the region.
• a lease with the University of Illinois Extension–Stephenson County for use of facilities in the Community Services Center. The new one-year lease represents a 4 percent increase over last year.