FREEPORT — During their February 16 regular meeting, the Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved the first reading of a $5 per credit hour tuition increase beginning in Fall 2016. This was the first of two readings required to set the new tuition rate.
If approved, in-district tuition would increase from $123 per credit hour to $128 per credit hour. The senior citizen rate would increase from $92 to $96 per credit hour. Out-of-district tuition will be set by a formula impacted by other community college tuition rates as they are established.
The increase is a direct result of the State of Illinois budget impasse, according to vice president of administrative services, Jill Janssen. Highland has received no state funding for the current fiscal year and most indications are that the budget will not be passed by the state, leaving all community colleges and universities without state funding for the year.
For Highland, this is a loss of about $1.5 million, which is 10 percent of the College’s operating budget. There is no information about the state’s fiscal year 2017 budget at this point, however, most reports indicate that a budget may not be passed until after the November election.
“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 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.”
Trustees discussed the option of revisiting tuition rates prior to the beginning of the spring 2017 semester registration period in September when more may be known about state funding.