At their regularly scheduled board meeting on March 14, the Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition for the 2017-18 academic year by $10.00 per credit hour and increase the technology fee from $6.00 to $11.00 per credit hour while eliminating the current $30 online course fee. For the 2017-18 academic year, in-district tuition and fees will be $156 per credit hour, compared to $141.00 this year. Some individual course fees are being reduced, and differential tuition will be implemented for some high cost programs to ensure fairness in assessing costs to students.
Bob Johnson, Chair of the BOT, stated, “This was a hard decision for the Board to make, but the State of Illinois budget impasse has put the College, and other institutions of higher education, in a tough position. Many of the trustees at colleges are discussing double-digit tuition increases as well.” Johnson added, “The College staff continues to work hard to provide a quality education and support services to students and the community.”
To support students, the College will eliminate the current $30 online course fee which was used to pay for the software used for online learning. Instead, those costs will now be offset by the increase in the technology fee, as the software funded by the fee is used in the majority of courses. The Kishwaukee College Foundation is preparing to increase scholarship assistance to district students as well. Traditionally, the Foundation has awarded $250,000 annually to assist students financially and is actively working to increase the scholarship amounts awarded.
The College’s operating budget is made up of three revenues sources: tuition and fees, local property taxes, and state aid. In FY16, the College received approximately 23% of its budget from the state. In FY17 (the current year), the College was forced to reduce its dependence on state aid to 12%. Due to the uncertain prospects for FY18 the College felt it was prudent to again reduce operational budget dependence on state aid, budgeting only 7% on state aids. Capital budgets and projects have been on hold for the past two years.
Cutting expenses is also part of the budget balancing. The College continues to reduce expenses by not filling vacant positions, limiting spending on materials and supplies, cutting travel, and saving money on utilities. This totals $2.8 million in budget reduction. The overall strategy is to make the operations budget of the College as financially independent of state funding as possible, which will position Kishwaukee College for long-term financial stability.
Dr. Borowicz noted, “We have to plan for the majority of our operational expenses without state revenue. If we receive State funds, they would be used to pay for deferred capital maintenance and other infrastructure improvements that will not otherwise happen. We also need to grow our reserves to an acceptable level that were significantly reduced when the budget stalemate began.”