Parkland trustees approve 4.46% tuition, fee increase

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CHAMPAIGN — Parkland College trustees Wednesday night approved a 4.46 percent increase in tuition and fees for classes beginning this summer.

With the increase, base tuition and fees for most in-district students at the community college in Champaign will rise from $157 to $164 per credit hour. Ten years ago, the comparable cost was $82 per credit hour.

But next year’s tuition increase is below the 20-year average annual increase of 6.5 percent and, on a percentage basis, is the smallest increase in 15 years.

Last year’s tuition increase was 11.74 percent.

Still, the tuition increase was opposed by board members Crystal Bates and Donna Giertz. Bates presented a petition signed by 204 Parkland students opposing the increase.

Board Chairman Dana Trimble voted yes, as did members Jim Ayers, Bianca Green, Greg Knott and Jim Voyles. Trustee Tim Johnson was absent.

Giertz, who is leaving the board this spring after 12 years, placed much of the blame for the tuition increase on shrinking state funding.

Under a preliminary fiscal year 2018 budget that was presented to trustees Wednesday, tuition and fees would account for 56 percent of Parkland’s revenue, property taxes would be 39 percent and state funds would be about 3 percent.

When the state’s community-college system was established about 50 years ago, tuition, property taxes and state aid each were to provide about 33 percent of funding.

“I think this is a tremendous disservice to our students,” Giertz said. “We’re just making the students bear the expense of all of Springfield’s failures.”

But she also renewed her charge to eliminate athletics at Parkland.

“And years ago, I started talking about our need to get rid of sports. At that time, I mentioned that I think we should start phasing things out. Nothing was done,” she said. “But at least our budget for sports has come down to $740,000.

“At that last meeting, Trustee Johnson said that students have a great sense of pride representing the college in sports. How about the students having pride in themselves — a student who gets an A in calculus, a student who gets an A in biology, a welder who gets a good job? I think that should be much more important to a student than representing their college in sports.”

Voyles, however, said he preferred raising tuition to cutting programs, “whether it be a vocational program that in some people’s minds may not be carrying its own weight, or an athletic program that benefits students. I’m not ready to do that.”

He noted that even with the increase, Parkland’s tuition will be less than half the amount at Eastern Illinois University.

“I’m not ready to be cutting programs of any kind at this point. And I can’t do anything about the state of Illinois,” Voyles said. “And I don’t think any of us are ready to go to the voters to ask for a (property) tax increase at this point.”

Under the program approved Wednesday, tuition and fees for out-of-state and international students at Parkland would be unchanged.

Parkland’s dean of enrollment management, Julie Marlatt, reported that while overall enrollment dropped about 4 percent last fall and again this spring, enrollment declines among out-of-district, out-of-state and international students were more severe.

Last fall, Parkland’s out-of-district enrollment fell 20 percent, from 1,785 to 1,434. Out-of-state enrollment was down 28 percent, from 138 to 99, and the number of international students dropped 16 percent, from 327 to 275.

Overall enrollment last fall was 8,351. Ten years earlier, it was 10,229.

Parkland enrollment this semester is 7,110. Ten years ago, it was 8,713.

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February 23, 2017 at 12:14AM

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Parkland trustees approve 4.46% tuition, fee increase

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