Harper College tuition going up 4.8 percent by summer

This story has been clarified to say tuition will rise 4.8%. While the total cost to a student -- including tuition and fees -- will rise 4.2%, the increase to the tuition itself will be 4.8%. Also, the box with the story has been updated to show College of DuPage tuition at $102.15; a higher number before included fees.

Harper College trustees have approved a 4.8 percent tuition increase that will take effect for the summer 2016 term.

The increase means students will pay $5.50 more per credit hour, or $119.25 up from $113.75, after the spring semester ends.

Harper's move Wednesday in a 6-0 vote to increase tuition mirrors moves being discussed by other community colleges that they say is to make up for money they are not getting from the state.

"Despite the unprecedented situation facing higher education in Illinois, the board is committed to maintaining tuition at a level that keeps Harper College affordable and accessible," Gregory Dowell, chairman of the Harper College board of trustees, said in a news release.

He acknowledged that the increase isn't minor, especially for students who struggle to fund their education.

"We will work to run the college as efficiently as possible without compromising its unmatched academic quality and rigor," Dowell said.

The increase comes against the backdrop of very low inflation, with prices for health care and education among the major exceptions. Overall, U.S. consumer prices increased 0.7 percent last year, but the education component rose 3.7 percent.

Harper's fees for technology and construction and renovation will remain the same, bringing the cost for a full-time student attending Harper to $4,057.50 a year, a $165 increase.

The tuition increase is expected to rake in $1.5 million in additional revenue for the college.

Some students say they understand why the Harper is raising the cost to attend the college.

"Although the representatives of the student body support this increase, we don't have our full enthusiasm behind it," said Eric DeBold, president of Harper's Student Government Association and a 19-year-old political science student.

Harper College's Student Government Association has established a state budget committee that does research on what is fueling the state budget impasse and how it affects Harper and other state colleges and universities.

DeBold said the purpose of the committee is to inform students and faculty of the facts surrounding state issues and help them understand how that trickles down to Harper. He said it's crucial for both students and faculty to be informed before they take actions like calling their lawmakers or going down to Springfield.

He and a few other Harper students traveled to Springfield Wednesday for Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address. Students weren't allowed in the chambers for the address, but that didn't stop hundreds of them from rallying for state funding.

"We're not looking to dial back until MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants are funded and colleges are funded," DeBold said, referring to need-based aid. "Nor should we rest until a budget is in place that sets up Illinois for success."

But on Friday, Rauner vetoed a proposal that would have provided $324 million to community colleges and $397 million to the Monetary Award Program, saying the state doesn't have the money.

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.

Community college tuition rates per credit hour

College of DuPage: $102.15

College of Lake County: $107

Elgin Community College: $119

*Harper College: $113.75

McHenry County College: $101

Oakton Comm. College: $111.25

*Waubonsee Comm. College: $110

* Harper's rate is going up 4.8 percent starting with summer classes and Waubonsee's is going up about 7 percent in the fall. Other colleges haven't yet voted on an increase.

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