Waubonsee board debates putting more of cost share on students
Waubonsee Community College students could end up picking up a greater percentage of the cost of their education, but it won't happen until at least 2016.
Next year's budget, for the fiscal year starting July 1, will continue to base tuition and the student fee on the college's long-held policy that those should account for no more than 33 percent of the funding for operations, according to David Quillen, executive vice president of finance and operations.
He was speaking to the college's board during the open portion of a special annual meeting Wednesday.
The board will set tuition and the student fee for the 2016 year Feb. 18.
Waubonsee charges students $104 per credit hour for tuition and a student fee of $8 per credit hour. It also charges laboratory fees for some courses.
The three main sources of funding college operations are property taxes, state credit-hour funding and students, Quillen said.
The college is limited by law in how much it can increase property taxes for operations, and Quillen doesn't expect state funding to increase. Trustee Jim Michels said the college doesn't have any control over either.
"For tuition we do have internal control, but the market is going to dictate," Michels said. "If we price ourselves too high, he (the student) is going to go to COD (College of DuPage) or whatever."
Comparing tuition costs of community colleges is complicated, as some colleges charge a variety of student fees, whereas Waubonsee charges one "universal" fee.
For example, College of DuPage charges $104.15 per credit hour, plus a $35.85 fee per hour, for most degree courses. For Internet-based courses it tacks on a $57.50 fee. And for five medical-career programs, it charges tuition of $244.50 per credit hour.
At Elgin Community College, Waubonsee's neighbor to the north, tuition is $114 per credit hour. It charges separate fees for enrollment, graduation, insurance and Internet course use.
Kishwaukee College in DeKalb County charges $113 per semester hour, a registration fee of $6 per course, an activity fee of $6 per semester hour, a technology fee of $6 per semester hour and an online/hybrid learning course fee of $30.
Waubonsee administrators brainstormed a list of things students expect to get for their tuition and fee, college President Christine Sobek said. The 17 items included outstanding faculty, quality instruction, state-of-the-art programs and facilities, career services, wireless and mobile Internet services, online learning and services, food, tutoring, testing, a library, adequate parking, a bookstore, advising, tuition payment plans, student activities and a secure campus.
"Even five years ago this list would not have been as comprehensive when you look at things like technology or safety," Sobek said. "These are not frills. These are not extras. These are what we need to provide to our students today to remain competitive."
The special meeting was to hear institutional reports. College officials presented plans to remodel the Copley Campus in Aurora, digital learning and the college's policies regarding sexual assaults and violence against women, among other topics.