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updated: 2/19/2014 6:55 PM

Oakton Community College raises tuition rate 16% over two years

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Tuition will be going up 16 percent at Oakton Community College over the next two years -- partially the result of a decline in state funding support, officials said.

The college's board of trustees voted this week to approve tuition rate increases of $7.91 per credit hour for the 2014-15 school year and $8 per credit hour for the 2015-16 school year. The overall tuition rate for students who attend classes at the college's Des Plaines and Skokie campuses will rise 8.3 percent to $103.25 next school year and 7.7 percent to $111.25 the year after.

Currently, Oakton's $95.34 per credit hour tuition rate is the seventh lowest among the 39 community colleges in Illinois.

College officials attribute the increase to a continued decline in the state's credit hour grant funding, as well as other grants, resulting in a $594,000 annual loss of revenue.

And officials say they're also limited by how much they can raise property taxes, per the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, which states that increases in property tax rates must be the lesser of 5 percent or the increase in the consumer price index.

"If you talk to any community college, they'll say the state is paying so much less every year," said board Chairman Joan DiLeonardi. "The property tax cap -- you can only go up to CPI. The only other source is tuition."

"We have hopes and see signs that perhaps the economy is getting better and maybe property taxes will be getting better."

The major cost for the college is employee salaries, DiLeonardi said, and all five employee union groups have contracts designating salary increases tied to increases in the CPI.

DiLeonardi said the board chose to approve increases for the next two school years to give students advance notice.

The first tuition rate increase takes effect starting with the summer 2014 term.

Oakton Community College District 535 includes Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka, and parts of Des Plaines, Mount Prospect and Rosemont.

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