Free Sauk tuition will be reined in this fall

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DIXON – Tuition waivers and scholarships at Sauk Valley Community College will be reined in starting in the fall to address the college’s financial plight.

In reducing both athletic scholarships and tuition waivers for Sauk Scholars by one-third, and setting up a three-tier system for waiving tuition for dual-credit students, the college will save about $170,000.

Sauk is operating with a fiscal year 2017 budget with a $1.9 million deficit, and is unsure how much – if any – funding it will receive from the state. While the stopgap measure signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on June 30 fully funded K-12 education for the whole school year, Sauk got just 28 percent of its funding.

That’s after the college got about 20 percent of its funding for the 2015-16 school year, via a previous stopgap measure.

The decision to reduce the tuition waivers was made shortly after the Oct. 24 Board of Trustees meeting, at which President Dave Hellmich made the proposals and pointed out that the college is budgeted to waive nearly $1 million for those three groups of students this fiscal year. That’s about 8 percent in free college, compared to an average of 4 percent for similar schools.

“When we compared ourselves to our peers, we had more waivers than, I think, anyone we compared ourselves to,” said Steve Nunez, Sauk’s vice president of research, planning and information affairs.

Sauk now charges dual-credit students half-price for tuition. Aside from Whiteside Area Career Center students, whose waivers would not be changed, students who qualify for free lunch would get 75 percent of their tuition waived; those qualifying for reduced lunch still would get half off; and all other dual-credit students would get 25 percent waived.

Athletic waivers will be reduced by one-third, as will credit-hours offered for free to Sauk Scholars – high school seniors who rank in the top 10 percent of their class. They’ll get 24 credits waived, rather than 36.

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Free Sauk tuition will be reined in this fall

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