NORMAL — The $3-per-credit-hour tuition increase approved by the Heartland Community College board of trustees Tuesday night will not solve the district’s financial issues.
But coming off several years of much larger tuition increases, President Allen Goben said, “The students have shouldered enough of the burden the last couple of years.”
The increase, which takes effect with summer semester, sets tuition at $130 per credit hour. The $7-per-credit-hour student life fee remains unchanged.
The $2-per-credit-hour student center fee, which expires this year, will be replaced with a $2-per-credit-hour program development and facilities enhancement fee. The student center fee has been in effect for five years to pay off construction bonds.
School administrators met with student leaders before making the recommendation.
Student trustee Mihir Patel told fellow board members the student recognize “all the difficulties” the college faces and wanted to support continued student services on campus.
“We were pretty happy with the proposal,” he said.
Several board members expressed reluctance, but all present voted in favor. Board members Harry Dunham and Steve Graham were absent.
“We all realize at some point somebody is not going to be able to go to college” because of the cost, Board Chairman Gregg Chadwick said. “We have to find the right balance to make sure the institution is financially sound.”
But the tuition increase alone won’t do that.
Rob Widmer, vice president of business services, said: “No, it’s not going to fill the budget hole. There are going to be challenges.”
Widmer and Goben said it is still early in the budget process, but they will be looking at ways to cut costs.
With the increase, Heartland’s tuition and fees will be slightly above the statewide average for public community colleges, Widmer said, but he did not have the exact figure.
In other action, the board approved a new program that would lead to a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree.
The need for more trained physical therapist assistants was cited in a survey of businesses within the district, Terri Saxton, dean of health and human services, told the board.
East Peoria-based Illinois Central College offers a physical therapist assistant program. However, five Heartland district students have been on a waiting list for three years, the board learned.
No other school offers a physical therapist assistant program from ICC to the Indiana border, Saxton said.
The college hopes to begin offering the program in fall 2014.