Tuition goes up

The Lamp Online Staff

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By Ryan Wilson, Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD — The cost of education just went up at Lincoln Land Community College.

The college will raise its tuition rate $6.50 per credit hour. It will cost in-district students $110.00 per credit hour for the 2015-16 school year.

This comes in response to Lincoln Land’s board policy 5.14.

It says that LLCC’s tuition rate should be based on an average of all Illinois community colleges’ tuition rates for the previous year. Lincoln Land then adds the Higher Education Price Index to that number.

“If that (HEPI) goes up and the average tuition charge for Illinois community colleges goes up, our tuition goes up,” Todd McDonald, vice president of administrative services, said. The HEPI is an inflation index calculated by Commonfund, an institutional investment firm. McDonald said it is used by public and private two-year and four-year institutions. “If, for some reason, all the community colleges started tuition decreases and the average prices went down, our prices would probably go down.”

The school also raised its tuition rate for out-of-districts students $13 (from $207 to $220) per credit hour and $19.50 (from $310.50 to $330) for out-of-state and international students.

It is a board policy, McDonald said, that the school’s out-of-district students experience a tuition increase twice as much as that of the in-district students. Out-of-state and foreign students will see an increase of three times that of in-district students.

McDonald said he does not think Lincoln Land would increase its tuition rate differently, if it were not for the board policy.

“It’s certainly not an arbitrary decision (to increase tuition) done by just Lincoln Land, like, ‘Hmm, I think we should make tuition $110 (for in-district students),” McDonald said.

McDonald said he does not expect the tuition increase to affect enrollment for next school year. He also said that he thinks that has not been a problem in the past.

“I don’t think we’ve ever heard the reason, ‘I didn’t come back to school this fall or this spring because tuition went up,’” he said. “I don’t think we hear that, to my knowledge. I haven’t heard that that is a problem.” McDonald said he expects the tuition rates to continue rising.

“Typically, most schools do a tuition increase,” he said. “Some keep it smaller, some go a bit larger. It just depends on their budgeting situation. So as long as the average tuition for the state (community colleges) goes up, our tuition will go up. And I think just based on what I’ve seen from other schools doing tuition rates, most people are increasing.

“I’ve seen a few (community colleges) with the decision to make it low or hold it flat for a year. Perhaps they did a large increase last year. Everybody’s rationale is different.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s predicted budget is to not change the state’s funding to Illinois community colleges from last year. McDonald said the Illinois Community College Board determines how much state funding each community college receives.

“Whether each individual school gets the same exact amount remains to be seen,” McDonald said.

Lincoln Land’s Board of Trustees approved a balanced budget of $43,388,533 for fiscal year 2015 at its Sept. 24 meeting.

He said LLCC’s tuition and property tax play a role in the school’s overall budget for the 2015-16 school year.

Property tax is 40 percent of Lincoln Land’s budget, while tuition is 50 percent.

McDonald said he expects the budget to go up slightly for the 2015-16 school year.

LLCC’s property tax is $0.46 of $100 assessed value. McDonald said property values have gone up 1 to 2 percent.

“We’re getting additional money from the property taxes,” McDonald said. “Obviously, we will get an increase in tuition revenue. It just depends on what our enrollment is going to be, how many students, how many credit hours.”

Discussions on whether to cut any programs “haven’t materialized or aren’t to the point of being serious enough,” McDonald said.

“We don’t come at it (the budget) from a number side, and what do we need to cut to make things balance,” he said. “We come at it with a strategic goal side, and say, ‘What do we need to do to advance the institution?’”

Ryan Wilson can be reached at [email protected] edu or (217) 786-2311.

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Tuition goes up