College of DuPage board of trustees places a freeze on tuition for the third straight year
March 22, 2017
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The board of trustees of the College of DuPage voted unanimously to place a freeze on tuition and fees for the Fall 2017 semester at its March 16 regular meeting.
Currently, residents of District 502 pay $135 dollar per credit hour, while non-residents pay $322 dollar per credit hour. Trustees decided there is a way to use existing funds to close an expected budget gap.
Despite the vote to place a freeze on tuition, some trustees are still concerned about the imbalance in the college’s revenue sources. Declining enrollment, the state’s budget impasse, and more money being generated from property taxes than tuition are major factors creating this imbalance.
The board cited “sound financial planning” as a corrective measure they have put into place to solve this budget problem. Sound financial planning for the college would mean rolling over a surplus from the college’s operating fund to have a balanced budget.
“We understand that cost is a part of the bigger picture,” said Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi. “For Fiscal Year 2015, our ending operating fund balance was $185 million. For the fiscal year 2017, our operating fund balance is projected to end at $204 million.
“So consequently, I feel very comfortable that we are in a fiscally good place where we can keep tuition frozen.”
The Student Leadership Council (SLC) headed by President Kiley Pooler, played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role after the college considered a tuition hike at the Feb. 9 board of trustees meeting. According to Pooler, a survey carried out by the council showed students were against a tuition increase.
“We feel that our constituents fully understand the situation,” said Pooler. “We talked to students in various classes, as well as non-traditional students. And through my general conversation with students, we found out that some students feel that the raise is a good idea.
“They understand the reasons for the proposal, but a majority of students do believe that there should not be a raise on tuition. I will ask that the board keep the student body opinion in mind and do not move to increase tuition.”
The president of the College of DuPage Faculty Association (CODFA) Richard Jarman said the considered tuition increase appeared like a cup of coffee, for some it is a luxury they can scarcely afford.
“COD is in a more than enviable position compared to most educational institutions in Illinois, and that it can be considering a hike on tuition in a period of declining enrollment, whilst maintaining full staff and programs,” said Jarman.
In a response to these pleas, Trustee David Olsen thanked both the faculty and students for reaching out with additional inputs.
“We may not always agree, but this time it looks like we are all in alignment,” said Olsen.
The board then went ahead and voted 6-0 to place a freeze on tuition. Trustee Dianne McGuire was the only trustee absent when the board rendered this “extraordinary” decision.
With this vote, the budget committee of the college has a clear outlook as to how they make projections from expected revenue to include in a draft budget to be submitted to the board for approval.