Hcc Likely To Raise Tuition To Offset State Budget Cuts

College Trustees Debate Alternative Financing

October 06, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

Tuition will almost certainly increase in the middle of this academic year at Howard Community College as a result of its $1.2 million share in the $450 million in spending cuts ordered by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

"I don't see how to avoid it," said college PresidentDwight A. Burrill. He said the college had already cut its staff andexpenses this year and further cuts could not make up the loss in state funding without harming the college's quality. Tuition, too, has already been stretched, from $44 per credit hour in fall 1990 to $47 per credit hour this semester.

"We can't allow the activities in Annapolis to destroy this institution," he said.

Burrill said he had no idea by how much the $47 per-credit-hour tuition would increase, but he expects an answer by the end of this week, after administrators study possible cuts in payroll and operating expenses.

"The one thing that is certain is thatthe state is not going to be able to provide aid to community colleges for the next several years, if ever again. They're basically out of the ball game."

As could be expected, students were not looking forward to yet another tuition increase.

"The students are the ones that are getting hurt," said freshman Pierre Torchenot of the expected increase.

"I need to get a job, because my parents probably won't pay it," said Torchenot, 20, a Wilde Lake resident. His tuition this semester was $658, not including fees and books.

Getting a jobwon't help 18-year-old Brian Reamer, a freshman who lives in the Village of Owen Brown.

"I already work 32 hours a week, so I don't know how I'm going to afford this," he said. "No one's happy with what Schaefer has done. I don't know why he's doing it."

In the 1970s, the state formula for subsidizing community colleges was 50 percent from the state, 25 percent from counties and 25 percent from tuition.

Burrill said that when he was named president of HCC in 1981,

the state's contribution had already declined to 38 percent.

"They've reduced their support consistently over the last 15 years," Burrill said. With this latest cut, $1.2 million from a $16.9 million operating budget, the state's share dropped to about 16 percent, while thecounty is budgeted for 42 percent and students pay for about 28 percent.

"What that means is that we're going to have to find a different way to fund community colleges," Burrill said.

That could happen through privatization, which could involve private funding of new buildings and programs, or through new taxes. Burrill said some states allow taxpayers to vote on how much of their taxes should be devoted to their community college.

Diane Allen, an HCC assistant chemistry professor, said the college administration should have seen the cuts coming and prepared for them.

Standing in the college's Galleria, she pointed to this summer's renovations to the student registration area, which has been dubbed "the hotel lobby" because of its poshmarble appointments.

"This money could have been spent more prudently elsewhere," she said. "I don't understand how decisions like these are made and who really oversees these type of decisions."

But Burrill said the renovations are not part of the equation because they are financed through county government bonds, which don't affect the college's operating budget.

"We don't have any contingency fund that we can carry forward" from year to year, he said, adding that 100 percent of every operating budget has to be allocated anew from thestate, county and tuition.

The college's board of trustees will discuss the issue at a work session Wednesday. It will make a final decision on a tuition increase and on the budget cuts Oct. 23.

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