FCC plans tuition hike of $3 per credit

Tuition rates at Frederick Community College will increase this fall, according to a budget proposal unanimously approved Wednesday by the school’s board of trustees.

In the first draft of the fiscal 2013 budget, tuition rates would rise from $106 per credit hour to $109. Registration fees would also increase.

A student now taking a full slate of 15 credits in the spring semester pays $1,903.25 in tuition and fees. Beginning in the fall, he or she could expect to pay $1,957.

Those totals do not include the costs of books or other college expenses.

Interim FCC President Doug Browning said the tuition increase is needed because state funding has not increased and the county commissioners asked for a budget with no increases in county funding.

“When the county and the state stay the same, all we’re left with is tuition to generate increases,” he said.

College officials are also projecting no increase in enrollment in the upcoming year.

Community colleges across the state are expected to raise tuition rates for fiscal 2013, according to Jody Kallis, legislative liaison for the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, because county and state funding is flat.

Before Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced the Keeping Community Colleges Affordable Grant last year, state aid for community colleges had not increased since 2008, Kallis said.

“It’s a very difficult situation to be in right now, to be running a public institution of higher education,” she said.

In O’Malley’s proposed 2013 budget released Wednesday, the Keeping Community Colleges Affordable Grant was cut in half from $5 million to $2.5 million, according to Kallis.

If FCC keeps its tuition rate increase below 3 percent, it would receive about $125,000 for fiscal 2013 from the fund.

The college received $250,708 last year.

The budget proposal keeps FCC under the 3 percent requirement for additional state funds, but it includes the same state funding as in fiscal 2012, Browning said.

With the change, FCC is almost $125,000 over in its estimate of state grant money, he said.

Browning said he expects MACC to lobby that the grant funding be restored to $5 million.

“It’s the only increase we’ve had in state funding for a long time,” he said.

FCC would like tuition rates to level off, he said, but that will be hard to do without increased enrollment and additional funding from the county or state.

Much of that potential funding depends on what the state does to the counties, including whether it shifts some responsibility for teacher pensions, according to Browning.

“It’s going to make it difficult for (the county commissioners) to do anything for anybody,” he said.

FCC’s tuition rate has been increasing since 2000 when it was $70 per credit hour.

Overall, the trustees approved a $46,578,034 operating budget for fiscal 2013.

The budget is a 1.1 percent, or $528,638, increase over the fiscal 2012 budget.

The trustees are scheduled to approve the final fiscal 2013 budget in June.

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