Howard Community College trustees voted last week to raise tuition, cut spending and draw down reserve funds to meet a $1.2 million cut in state aid.
The board agreed to increase tuition by $6 per credit, rejecting a campus administration proposal for a $10 increase. County residents will pay $53 per credit next semester. Out-of-county students will pay $82 a credit, a $12 increase. Fees for facilities rentals, parking and swimming pool passes also will be raised.
Community college President Dwight A. Burrill decided late last week to freeze vacant staff and administration positions to make up the difference between the $350,000 a $10 tuition increase would have brought in and the $210,000 yielded by the $6 increase.
Planned spending cuts range from not mailing out midterm grades to reducing the grounds budget and the number of seasonal plantings. The staff will use less expensive marketing publications and advertising and will cutlighting and power usage.
The community college will make available an additional $100,000 from bookstore revenues to increase financial aid to students who qualify.
The additional money "will hopefully absorb the need," financial aid director Deborah Davis said. The aid will not cover the full cost of the tuition increase for all students on scholarships, she said.
The impact of the tuition increase will vary. Student Government Association President Jenny Arnold, a second-year student from Columbia, said her impression is that some students are very concerned, while others aren't even aware that a tuition increase is being imposed.
Duane Cunningham, a first-year physical therapy student from Ellicott City, said he couldn't afford the proposed $10 per credit tuition increase.
"I get financial aid, but if I had to pay for it, I wouldn't be here," Cunningham said. He said he would have to rely on additional scholarships to cover the expense.
For Jewell Robinson of Ellicott City, the increase would haveless impact. Robinson, who is taking an evening course in intermediate accounting to keep her skills sharp for the day when her children are old enough for her to return to work, said she could pay the higher tuition.
The trustees agreed that the $10 increase placed too much of the budget-reduction burden on students.
Burrill said the $10 figure would raise enough money to avoid forcing the college to furlough or lay off employees if the state government imposes another round of cuts this winter.
By February or March, eight or nine months into the fiscal year, "the only things left in the budget are salaries," Burrill told the trustees.