Highland Community College Trustees pass first reading of tuition increase

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 with the 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 for the fall. 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 spring semester registration in September when more may be known about state funding.

The Board of Trustees also approved a resolution providing the issuance of working cash bonds in the amount of $2,485,000. This was the final step in the bond issuance process. At the January board meeting, Trustees held a public hearing to receive comments regarding the College's plans to sell working cash bonds.

The funds from the bond sale can only be used to support the cash flow of the College and ensure there is cash to make payment on current expenses. Future tax levies could be structured so the College's overall tax rate stays in the same range that it has in prior years. The working cash bonds issuance will add about four cents to the College's tax year 2015 levy, or about $10 for the a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000.

"While the College faces a very challenging financial situation, Highland is in a much better position than some other colleges in the state whose budgets comprise 30 percent or more in state funding. The working cash bonds will ensure that there is cash flow available to support operations," Janssen said.

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

Fax 815-235-6130

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