HCC students face tuition rise in wake of state budget cuts College proposes fee increase of $5 to $13 per credit

February 16, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Anticipating less state funding, Howard Community College is proposing three operating budgets for next year, all depending on the county's ability to shoulder the cost of state cuts.

The budgets call for tuition increases between $5 to $13 a credit, from the current $58 per credit. Each proposal includes the $382,000 cost of paying Social Security for college employees, a cost previously covered by the state, and a 2.5 percent cost-of-living and merit salary increase for employees. In all three budgets, significant reductions have been made in the preventive maintenance department and in furniture and equipment purchases.

The college will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at Smith Theatre for students, parents and faculty to express their opinions.

"The goal is to gather as much public comment about the proposals from the college community and all of Howard County," said Randy Bengfort, college spokesman.

The college finds itself in the difficult position of relying on county funds and tuition increases for operating money, he said. "We recognize there's a chance we might have to do less than what we feel really should be done . . . to maintain the quality of education here," he said.

The Board of Trustees is expected to vote on a budget before next month, when the college sends a proposal to County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

Enrollment at the college has increased 12 percent, from 4,400 students in 1990 to close to 5,000 students this fall, a record number. The state's share of the cost, meanwhile, has decreased.

"The county and tuition have been picking up for the state," said Mr. Bengfort, adding that tuition has increased an average of $4 each year since 1988.

More than a third of the college's budget this year is funded through tuition costs, and about half is by county contribution.

The first proposal -- a $21.9 million budget, 11.4 percent more than in this year's budget -- includes the amount of money needed to carry out new programs and maintain others. It also includes $313,000 to hire six new, full-time faculty members and close to $275,000 for such initiatives as a writing enhancement project, professional development, a new grants office and a new management program.

Under this proposal, students would have to pay $7 or $13 more per credit, depending on how much of the costs the county is willing to shoulder. County officials could not be reached yesterday.

The second proposal -- a $21.4 million "maintenance" budget, an 8.7 percent increase -- would have students pay $5 or $10 more per credit, depending on the county's share. The college would hire three more professors instead of six and would not open the grants office, which would find federal and private money for the college.

The third proposal -- a worst-case scenario -- represents a bare-bones $21 million budget that would have enough money for one new, full-time faculty post and more money to hire part-time instructors to make up for fewer professors.

The college would cut money for computer software training for staff and student and earmark less money for diversity training and hiring. Students would pay $5 more for each credit.

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