Carroll Community College's proposed operating budget for next year includes a tuition increase of $6 a credit hour to offset the effect of cuts in state education funding and to pay for the continued growth in student enrollment and programs, college officials said.
The proposed $16.7 million budget for the 2004-2005 year, which is $1.2 million larger than this year's, was presented last night to the college's board of trustees.
The $6 increase would raise tuition to $88 a credit hour. Including fees, a typical full-time student would pay an additional $92 a semester, bringing tuition for an average course load of 13.4 credits to $1,356 a semester, college officials said.
Part-time students take an average course load of 5.5 credits a semester, meaning that with fees they would pay an extra $38, or a tuition of $557 a semester. Tuition for out-of-county students, $128 a credit hour, and out-of-state pupils, $195 a credit hour, would remain the same.
"The main reason it's going up - twice the level we would otherwise have hoped to do - is we're not going to be receiving any new significant state funds," said Alan Schuman, the college's executive vice president of administration. "We're replacing what we would have gotten in state dollars with a tuition increase."
The increase is expected to generate $344,700 to make up for reductions in state spending on community colleges in recent years, Schuman said. The colleges saw an 11 percent reduction in state support for the fiscal year that started in July, according to the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.
In the past two years, Carroll Community College did not get $1.2 million it was expecting based on a funding formula - used in past years - that brings more money to the college as enrollment increases, Schuman said. This year, the college is to receive $4.48 million in state money, which is $277,000 less than in the previous fiscal year.
Although the college is expected to receive $97,000 more from the state next year, the amount is $330,000 less than what the school could be getting based on the funding formula and on further increases in enrollment, Schuman said. The new state money is not enough to keep up with costs associated with more students, he said.
"Because we didn't receive [$330,000], we had to evaluate what to cut out of the budget, and what level of tuition increase to request to try to create a budget that still maintains our quality of service for the growing population," Schuman said.
Carroll Community College has seen a steady growth in student enrollment in the past several years. There are 11,795 full-time, part-time and noncredit students at the college.
If the tuition increase and the proposed budget are approved by the board next month, it would be the 10th year in a row that the college has raised tuition. An increase of $3 a credit hour approved last year brought tuition for the current academic year to $82 an hour.
Of the state's 16 community colleges, Carroll ranks seventh in tuition costs - behind Prince George's, Allegany, Washington, Montgomery, Southern Maryland and Howard colleges.
Nevertheless, Schuman pointed out that Carroll's tuition is increasing at a slower pace than that of four-year public universities.
"The tuition is going up and we're not happy about it, but we're trying to rise at a smaller rate than the state schools," he said.
The $1.2 million increase in the proposed operating budget would pay for full-time and part-time faculty members to accommodate more students and for costs associated with expanding programs, such as those in nursing, criminal justice and teacher education.
College administrators are asking for $112,000 to hire two faculty members for the nursing program, which is expecting more of students because of its new nursing and allied health building scheduled to be completed by next fall.
Also, $119,000 is needed to hire two faculty members for the foreign language and transitional mathematics programs.