ELYRIA — For the fourth time in the past five years, tuition is rising at Lorain County Community College.
The college’s Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent increase that will go into effect this summer, according to Tracy Green, the college’s vice president for strategic and institutional development.
The tuition hike works out to an additional $92 a year for full-time students taking a minimum of 13 credit hours per semester.
LCCC’s average annual tuition runs about $2,700 for the school’s 15,000 students, a figure that includes the increase, Green said.
Even with the increase, the college still boasts the third-lowest tuition costs of all state-assisted community colleges, which average $3,900, according to Green.
Enrollment has risen about 120 percent over the past decade, Green said.
“This is really telling us the community values the need for higher education,” Green said.
The college has cut approximately $8 million from its budget over the past two years, Green said.
Those cuts have included extended workdays, reduced hours for some faculty, elimination of non-essential equipment purchases, taking steps to improve efficiency of operations, and consolidating multiple faculty and support staff positions into single jobs.
Rather than eliminate existing personnel, the college has opted to not fill positions when people retire or leave for other jobs.
“We’ve asked people to do more without sacrificing the quality of educational services,” Green said.
LCCC’s budget now stands at approximately $65 million.
Identical 3.5 percent tuition increases were approved in 2009, 2011 and 2012. The 2009 increase had marked the first in three years.
Green said the 3.5 percent tuition increases have “barely kept pace with the cost of inflation.”
Despite substantial increases in enrollment over the last 10 years, the college has seen state funding shrink by about 30 percent. The state share makes up a third of LCCC’s funding, according to officials.
The other two-thirds of the college’s money comes from tuition and local taxes.
One factor behind the decline in state money has been what Green called major state tax reforms “that have cut funding to higher education.”
The college has also been hurt by a decline in area property values, which dropped an average 8.2 percent countywide in 2012, according to figures from the county auditor’s office.
“It was the perfect storm of funding challenges,” Green said. “At the same time that we were faced with these cuts in funding, we were serving more students than ever on campus and through the University Partnership program.”
The $2,700 average tuition covers LCCC students who take 13 hours of classes. Those who take up to 18 credit hours pay no more, Green said.
“It’s a blanket tuition that saves costs while accelerating students’ progress,” Green said.
Trustees Kreig Brusnahan, Ben Fligner, Tess Gardner, Terry Goode and Larry Goodman voted for the latest tuition increase, while Joseph Cirigliano opposed it.
LCCC trustees also elected Goodman as board president, succeeding Brusnahan. Fligner succeeds Goodman as vice chairman.
Reporter Evan Goodenow contributed to this story.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.