Parkland board approves tuition increase
CHAMPAIGN — Parkland College students will pay 5.3 percent more for tuition next term under new rates approved by the school's trustees.
Tuition will rise from $103.50 to $109 per semester credit hour starting with the summer term. For a full-time, 15-hour course load, the cost will rise $82.50, from $1,552.50 to $1,635 per semester — although more than half of Parkland's students attend part-time.
Students living outside Parkland's district will pay $285 per credit hour, up from $252. Non-resident and international students will pay $435 per credit hour.
Rates for students who take courses online will also rise, equal to 55 percent of their respective on-campus rates, as follows: $157 per credit hour for out-of-district students, $240 for out-of-state students, and $240 for international students.
Rates for specific career programs whose costs are pegged to the basic tuition rate will also rise.
Parkland President Tom Ramage said the school's long-held policy is to increase tuition by a small amount each year — usually $5 per credit hour — to avoid big jumps and keep college costs predictable for families.
Last year's increase was $4.50, as student leaders requested that 50 cents be diverted to a student government fee to increase student programming on campus, he said. This year's rate increase is 50 cents higher as a result, he said.
The tuition rates were approved at Wednesday's board meeting 6-1, with Trustee Donna Giertz voting no. Student Trustee Krystal Torres, who has an advisory vote, supported the increase.
A financial report presented to trustees shows a $500,000 deficit in general operating funds through the first seven months of the year, mostly because tuition income fell below projections last fall. Enrollment dropped by 6 percent over the previous fall, with a head count of about 9,650 students.
Enrollment hit new highs during the recession but tapered off as the economy recovered, a typical historical pattern, Ramage said. This semester's head count is down about 3 percent from last year, he said.
"That means less tuition dollars," he said.
State funding is also down, with Parkland receiving 11 percent of its income from the state, or about $6 million, compared with 20 percent a few years ago, he said.
At the same time, growth in local property tax income has slowed during the recession, and corporate personal property replacement taxes are also down, he said.
Revenue is behind projections by about $500,000, but with contingencies built in to the budget Parkland should finish the fiscal year with a balanced budget or even a surplus, he said. The college, which is self-insured, has seen significantly fewer health insurance claims this year, which means lower costs, he said.