FREEPORT — The HCC Board of Trustees approved a $6 per credit hour tuition increase and a $1 per credit hour decrease in the student activity fee at the March 15 regular meeting. The approval follows a first reading of a proposed $5 tuition increase by the board during their March meeting. The new rates will take effect for the fall 2016 semester.
The in-district tuition rate will increase from $123 per credit hour to $129 per credit hour. The decrease in the student activity fee will shift $1 per credit hour to the College’s operating funds, which support the academic and student services of the College from the auxiliary fund, which support the auxiliary services of the college.
“The College has taken steps to reduce expenses, such as limiting expenses to those that are deemed essential, reducing staffing, reducing employee benefits, and negotiating savings with vendors,” said Vice President of Administrative Services Jill Janssen. “In any fiscal year, the recommendation for any tuition rate increase take into account affordability for students, Highland’s comparability to other colleges’ per credit hour tuition and fees, and Highland’s projected budget.”
The tuition increase is a direct result of the state of Illinois budget impasse, according to Janssen. State appropriations to Illinois community colleges for the current fiscal year have not been made due to the budget stalemate. Based on all available information, Illinois community colleges are anticipating no state funding for FY16.
Highland’s budget for fiscal year 2016 includes about $1.5 million in unrestricted state funding, or about 10 percent of the operating budget revenues. Projections indicate that the operating fund balance reserves will be reduced to about 15 percent of the fund’s expenditures by the end of the fiscal year. Recent indications are that next year’s state budget may not be implemented until well into the College’s 2017 fiscal year.
At this time, most Illinois community colleges are anticipating that 2017 state funding will be a fraction of what was originally expected this fiscal year.