PEORIA -- Candidate for the Illinois Central College Board Diane Lamb has responded to a story in the Peoria Journal Star regarding tuition increases at ICC:
Re: Journal Star article of March 28, 2013: ICC tuition going up for fall semester
The rationale for tuition increase discussed: “Community colleges were set up to be funded primarily through tuition, property taxes and state dollars. Property tax revenues are flat, and state funding has declined from 33% in 2002 to about 12% in FY 2014…...” “One leg of our three-legged stool has been cut in half.” The discussion continued “When the state gets their business straight, maybe we can stop raising tuition.” “Besides reduced state funding ….. delayed state funding also is a problem. The state currently owes ICC $5.25 million…..”
I expect Central Illinois students, parents, or potential students would be sensitive about another education expense increase, while sources for student assistance decline. I appreciate that the article discussed ICC’s rationale for the need for an increase, and especially appreciate the “Regional tuition and fees per credit hour” table that shows where ICC stands compared to other area schools.
That said, ICC is larger than most, if not all the other colleges listed; therefore their tuition base as an income source is potentially higher than a school with a smaller population. But then again there is more property to support with a larger population. It’s a balancing act, but ICC has an advantage in the larger student population, which may allow for lower tuition fees. That could give ICC a competitive edge. If ICC continues to raise tuition, they could lose that competitive edge. Also, the quality of the education is a must. Students want good quality for minimum expense. Education is a competitive business.
I worry about ICC’s solvency and ability of the Central Illinois district to support the school without new revenue sources. I don’t have confidence that the state will “get their business straight.” I believe the business model for colleges, including community colleges, is changing. Not only does the state have reduced and late-paying funds owed to all school districts, there is the uncertainty pertaining to impending pension reform that includes cost shifting to the colleges. Additionally, there is the decrease in property taxes due to lowered assessed property values, in general.
When economic conditions change, it is important to investigate new revenue sources. There are foundations (i.e. NSF) and educational granting sources that colleges can qualify for. Other area schools are taking such measures. Within the last couple of years, Eureka College has hired a full-time grant writer. Heartland Community College has received a five-year, $1.2 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education TRIO Student Support Services program to subsidize its support services to first-generation and low-income students and students with disabilities. Other special purpose funding sources listed on-line, as part of HCC 2013 Budget:
--Department of Education - Paraprofessional Pre-service Program = $148,510
--IGEN TAACCCT Grant = $319,139
--NASA -CMSI/Mission To Mars = $41,404
--National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-IL Buffer Trees Forever = $2,000
--USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant = $99,000