NORMAL — Tuition will increase $5 per credit hour starting this summer at Heartland Community College, following action by the board of trustees on Tuesday night.
Tuition will go from the current $137 per credit hour to $142 per credit hour. Fees of $7 for student life, $2 for program development and facilities enhancement and $2 for the learning management system will remain unchanged.
The overall rise in tuition and fees from $148 to $153 per credit hour is a 3.6 percent increase. For a full-time student taking 12 credit hours a semester that will bring the tuition-and-fee total to $1,836, an increase of $60 per semester.
Among factors cited by administrators in making the recommendation were an anticipated deficit in the fiscal 2019 budget, continued uncertainty over the state budget and the loss of authority to levy an equity property tax.
The loss of the equity tax, which is based on a complex formula related to a district's property assessments and enrollment, will result in a revenue reduction of about $3 million a year, according to information provided to trustees.
“We're always concerned with access and affordability,” President Rob Widmer said after the meeting. “We never take any increase lightly.”
Doug Minter, vice president of business services, said Heartland will have the ninth highest community college tuition in the state with this increase, up from 12th, if no other districts increase their tuition. However, Minter said it is likely Heartland won't be the only district with an increase.
In a meeting with student government leaders in January, Widmer and Minter were told students prefer smaller, more frequent tuition increases, when needed, rather than less frequent but larger increases.
Minter said the $5 per credit hour increase should raise an additional $500,000 in revenue annually for the district.
Asked whether there is a risk that the increase could cause a drop in enrollment, Widmer said, “There's always that possibility, but we try to keep it (the tuition increase) within a very reasonable amount.”
Last year, the board approved a $2 per-credit-hour tuition increase and instituted a $2 per-credit-hour learning management system fee. The new fee replaced a $30-per-course fee that was only charged for online and partially online hybrid courses.
In other business, Rick Pearce, vice president for learning and student success, reported that credit enrollment for spring semester showed a 2.7 percent increase in unduplicated headcount, rising from 4,899 a year ago to 5,029 this spring. However, credit hours were down 1.6 percent.
Pearce said the headcount includes high school and career center students taking dual-credit College Now courses. Many of them are taking only one three-credit-hour course.