Waubonsee Community College looking at tuition and fee hikes

Updated 1/22/2015 5:35 AM

A long-used guideline at Waubonsee Community College -- that students should pay for no more than one-third the costs of operating the college -- may be dropped.

David Quillen, the college's executive vice president of finance and operations, told trustees Wednesday that in February, he is going to recommend that students pick up more of the cost via an increase in tuition and fees.


The reasons for the possible tuition and fee hike is uncertainty about state funding and restrictions on how much the college can increase property taxes, Quillen said.

The college each year already asks for the maximum it can obtain in operating taxes; how much more it actually gets is regulated by the rate of inflation as determined by the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

For the property taxes collected in spring 2016, that inflation rate has just been set at .8 percent, he said. "So it is not a significant source of new or additional funding," Quillen said.

The current guideline, which aims to have students pay one-third of the cost, property taxpayers pick up one-third, and the state one-third, is a "generally accepted goal" at all of the state's community colleges, according to the Illinois Community College Board's mission statement.

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Quillen did not present a specific figure to the board Wednesday, but he said people should not expect "shock and awe on a huge increase." The board did not ask questions about the memorandum he gave them.

The college raised tuition by 4 percent and the credit-hour student fee by 60 percent last August.

Earlier in the meeting, Quillen said the Illinois Community College Board director has kept the college informed about how new Gov. Bruce Rauner's edict to freeze nonessential spending could affect community colleges. Quillen said the community college board has offered to cut out performance-based funding. In 2013, that was budgeted at about $360,000 statewide, according to the community college board's website.

College President Christine Sobek said Waubonsee officials are especially eager to hear what Rauner will recommend for the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, "because it has strong collaborations with community colleges."

Waubonsee has received at least $1.44 million in grants from that department since 2007, according to its website.

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