After four years of holding tuition steady, the Elgin Community College board decided in January to raise tuition by $8 per credit hour starting in the summer.
Four of the five candidates seeking a seat on the ECC board said they supported the move, which brought tuition to $99 from $91 per credit hour.
Ellie MacKinney and John Duffy are seeking re-election. John Dalton, Robin Lisboa and Richard Geary are seeking their first term on the ECC board. Three seats are open.
"Our students supported the tuition increase," MacKinney said during a Daily Herald editorial board interview. "They knew it was coming."
Indeed, when voters in 2009 approved a $178 million expansion of the Elgin campus, college officials said they would need to raise tuition to staff and maintain the new facilities.
Duffy, a longtime trustee, wrote in a candidate questionnaire: "We kept our promise to the voters. We said that as the new buildings came online, we would raise tuition to meet costs necessary to maintain those buildings."
Tuition, ECC officials have said, will probably continue to rise to fund the expansion.
"We will probably have to raise tuition again next year," MacKinney said.
Even two of the three challengers backed the tuition increase.
Dalton, an Elgin attorney who is running on a slate with MacKinney and Duffy, said, "I agree with them that $99 is affordable. I think the $8 increase, after holding the line for four years, was appropriate."
Geary, a groundskeeper for Harper College, concurred.
"The cost of running the school keeps going up," Geary wrote in a questionnaire. "This may be one of the ways to pay for it."
But Lisboa, a former ECC teacher and administrator, said it's too early to tell if raising tuition was the right decision.
"The institution needed to expand," she said. But she added, "We will not know if it was a good decision until we see what happens a little bit down the road."