DANVILLE – Students attending Danville Area Community College may have to dig a little deeper into their pockets to pay tuition this summer.
Currently, DACC's combined tuition and fee rate is $64 per credit hour, which includes $58 toward tuition and a $6 fee toward technology and student activities.
Trustees are considering an increase of the combined rate by $7 or $8 per credit hour, which would push the combined rate up to $71 or $72 per credit hour.
That would mean a student taking the minimum full load of 12 credit hours would pay at least an additional $84 per semester and an additional $168 for two semesters.
The DACC Board of Trustees will discuss this during their regular meeting Tuesday.
The proposed increase would be the largest in more than a decade at DACC, which has raised tuition almost annually in the last 15 years. But most of those increases were $2-per-credit-hour bumps until about 2001.
State aid for community colleges began to shrink at that time, and DACC trustees have considered larger tuition increases each year since then.
In 2002, the tuition and fee rate was $51 per credit hour. If trustees approve the newly proposed rates, tuition and fees will have increased 41 percent over the last four years.
DACC President Alice Jacobs said the most the college can hope for in state aid in the next fiscal year is about what the college received for the current one. She said the college is receiving about the same amount of state aid it received in 1996.
The pool of dollars appropriated by the state to all community colleges decreased about four years ago and remained flat for the next three years. This year, Jacobs said, community colleges may receive their first increase in four years – a 1.9 percent increase.
Jacobs said an increase is essential when expenses continue to rise.
"We need to maintain the level of excellence, and we want to make sure we have the resources that students expect and that we can attract and retain excellent faculty and staff," she said.
College officials and trustees have stressed each year when considering tuition and fee increases that DACC's combined rate is either below or at the statewide average.
Jacobs said that remains the case, and of the 39 community colleges in the state, DACC has the 12th lowest combined tuition and fee rate.
She said even if the increase is approved, DACC should not be higher than other community colleges with comparable enrollments and equalized assessed valuations.
John Wood Community College in west central Illinois near Quincy is comparable to DACC, and that institution's combined rate is $81 per credit hour, Jacobs said. Parkland Community College just approved an increase, making that institution's combined rate $77 per credit hour, effective this summer.
Also on Tuesday, the DACC trustees will consider transferring ownership of a 3-acre parcel of land to the DACC foundation, which is working with a private developer interested in building student housing.
State law prohibits community colleges from owning housing, so the college foundation, which is a separate entity, is spearheading the effort. Other community colleges in the state have worked through their foundations to develop student housing on or near their campuses.
DACC foundation officials have been working toward this project for a few years and would like to see housing in place for the upcoming fall semester.
The foundation had been working with the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System to secure a 3-acre portion of federal property adjacent to the college.
But Jacobs said the foundation couldn't get that property in time to develop housing by the fall, so the college plans to donate 3 acres on the northwest corner of campus between DACC's main entrance and the VA entrance from Main Street.
The foundation has been working with Collegiate Facilities, Inc., of Indiana, which would lease the land from the foundation and construct a multiunit dorm-type apartment building.
Jacobs said the college will continue to work with VA officials, however, because the foundation could utilize additional federal land to develop additional housing.
The trustees will discuss the land transfer at Tuesday's meeting, but won't vote on the proposal until a special trustees meeting at noon on March 7 on the DACC campus.