Tuition Hike To Offset Flat Funding
MUSKEGON — The probability of no funding increase from the state, coupled with a routine rise in operating costs, led Muskegon Community College to raise tuition for the semester that begins this fall.
The increase of $2 per credit hour for in-district students and $3.50 for out-of-district students will help to offset an expected flat funding level from the state, which accounts for 40 percent of MCC’s annual revenues.
The state’s proposed higher education budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 earmarks $9.2 million in state aid for Muskegon Community College, the same amount the college received for the 2001-02 fiscal year.
The state was unable to fund an increase for higher education because of a budget crisis that makes the chances of any significant increase in the following year unlikely, driving the need to adjust tuition rates, MCC President Frank Marczak said.
“We’re in good shape financially and the state’s been good to us” in the past, Marczak said. “We’re trying to say, ‘look it, let’s plan ahead because it’s not going to get better.’”
MCC’s expenses are projected to increase from about $20 million to about $22.3 million next year as enrollment grows by an expected 400 students, to about 4,900 for the fall/winter semester.
MCC’s tuition will increase with the beginning of the semester from $50 to $52 per credit hour for in-district students, from $72.50 to $76 for out-of-district students, and from $88.50 to $93 for out-of-state students.
MCC trustees last month also raised what’s known as a “contact hour charge” that covers additional laboratory time or other activities for students. The charge increased by $11 per semester, to $31 for in-district students, $45.50 for out-of-district students, and $55.50 for out-of-state students.
The charge applies to students whose time in the classroom exceeds the number of credit hours they receive for the course. The college is in the third year of a five-year plan to implement a 100 percent contact hour charge.
Even with the tuition increase, Muskegon Community College remains one of the lower-cost community colleges in Michigan, Marczak said. Prior to the increase, Muskegon ranked near the bottom of the state’s 28 community colleges in tuition, he said.
“We’re still a bargain,” Marczak said. “We’re not pricing ourselves out of the market.”
The tuition increase that trustees approved was less than what administrators proposed. One-third of the original $3 increase per credit hour would have gone into a fund to pay for the construction of a new $4 million campus library. Trustees agreed to pare back the proposal and approved a smaller increase.