Highland Community College Trustees approve tuition increase

During their March 17 regular meeting, the Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved a $5 per credit hour tuition increase beginning with the Fall 2015 semester. This was the second of two readings required to approve the new tuition rate.

The first reading of the measure, approved during the Board's February meeting, was a proposed $10 increase per credit hour. Following discussion during the March meeting, Trustees made the decision to adopt a $5 increase. In-district tuition will now be $123 per credit hour for the 2015-16 academic year, up from $118 in 2014-15. The senior citizen rate will increase from $89 to $92 per credit hour.

Trustees and college officials cited decreased state funding and lower local property tax revenue as two major factors driving the decision to increase tuition. 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 comprising only 13 percent of Highland's operating fund, Vice President of Administrative Services Jill Janssen explained that the increase of $5 per credit hour would help offset reductions in state funding and local property values. For fiscal year 2015, Highland is expecting local property taxes to contribute 45 percent, with 36 percent of revenue generated from tuition and fees. The remaining six percent comes from other sources.

"The college has experienced declining revenue from the state in recent years, amounting to an average reduction of about $100,000 per year over the course of the last five 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 fiscal year 2015 to budgeted fiscal year 2016, expenses are expected to grow about three 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 and leaving open positions vacant.

In other news, trustees approved:

-   the list of part-time instructors, overload and other assignments for the Spring 2015 semester.

-   first readings of revised policies 4.001 - Job Descriptions, and 5.131 - Smoking and Tobacco. The policies will be presented for a second reading at the April regular meeting.

-   revised job descriptions for President and CEO and Executive Vice President, effective July 1, 2015.

-   an Interfund transfer of $32,087 from the Restricted Purposes Fund to the Operating Fund.

-   the low base bid meeting specifications of $145,683 from Engel Electric, Sterling, IL for the Security Lighting Upgrade Project. 

-   a contract with akaCRM for a software system for better student inquiry, communication, tracking, and analytics at a one-time cost not to exceed $21,000, and an estimated annual cost of $2,300.

The next regular board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. in the Robert J. Rimington Board room in the Student/Conference Center. The next quarterly board retreat is scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. in room H-206 in the Student/Conference Center.

2998 W. Pearl City Road
Freeport, IL 61032-9341

Fax 815-235-6130

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