DECATUR — A loss of state funding and increasing operation costs have forced community colleges around Illinois to increase their tuition.
Richland Community College is no exception.
The college’s board of trustees voted Tuesday to increase the average tuition rate about 3 percent per credit hour for the coming school year.
Next semester, the tuition for standard in-district students will be $133 per hour, an increase of $4 from the current year. Tuition for students taking health profession and online classes will go up $5 starting next semester, to $160 and $168, respectively.
Officials said the challenge of the tuition change was to bring in more money while keeping Richland a viable financial option for local residents.
“With the trend we have right now and the challenges we have financially, we thought this would be a good mix,” Richland President Cris Valdez said. “We’re seeing a nominal tuition increase while also staying in a competitive range with our sister institutions.”
With tuition and fees, the total cost for a standard in-district student would total $145 per credit hour. Total tuition and fees cost for students in health profession and online classes would be $172 per credit hour and $180 per credit hour, respectively.
The total cost for out-of-district students would be $200 per credit hour, while out-of-state students total cost would be $481 per credit hour.
The in-district costs for Richland students align with several other community colleges in Central Illinois, including Heartland’s total cost of $146 per credit out, Lake Land College’s total cost of $131 per credit hour, and Lincoln Land College’s total cost of $132 per credit hour.
In addition to tuition, the board also approved changing several fees for classes. Most stayed the same, though some, such as Chemistry in Everyday Life, saw an increase.
The tuition increase is part of an effort by the college to get its financial situation in order. Due to declining enrollment and loss of state funds that used to account for roughly 13 percent of the college’s budget; officials have had to look at ways to avoid a budget hole which Valdez projected to be more than $250,000 in the coming fiscal year. In the past few months, the college has eliminated several administrative positions. Also, employees are being offered voluntary buyout packages.
The number of employees who have accepted buyouts should be known by the board’s March meeting.