East Central College (ECC)

The East Central Board of Trustees tabled discussions regarding a 10 percent tuition and fees hike during its meeting Monday, Feb. 4.

The last time the trustees voted on an increase was in 2017 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

A budget subcommittee began meeting last fall to discuss the cost of tuition and fees.

“We knew that tuition would be one of the first things, just in terms of the time line, that the committee would need to address,” said ECC President Jon Bauer. 

Bauer noted the budget won’t be approved until later, but students will be registering for fall classes soon so it’s important to the budget committee to have the cost of tuition and fees in place.

The subcommittee suggested a 10 percent tuition increase for the 2019-20 school year to the budget committee which recommended it to Bauer.

“I’m making the same recommendation to the board for approval,” he said.

The tuition is divided into two tiers. Tier 1 involves most programs and Tier 2 is for classes in culinary arts, industrial maintenance technology, nursing and precision machining programs.

The recommendation would increase Tier 1 in-district students’ cost per credit hour from $85 to $94 and Tier 2 in-district students’ cost from $104 to $115 per credit hour.

Student activity fees would increase $1, use of facilities fees would go up $2 and security would increase $1.

Support services would remain the same at $3.50 and technology fees would decrease $1.

“The committee reviewed tuition and fees not just here but around the state with a balanced approach of looking at both our tuition and fee structure, and also knowing that there will be expenditure reductions as well,” Bauer said.

Trustee Prudence Fink Johnson didn’t agree with this approach.

“If we’re going to raise this, why are we being so cheap?” Johnson asked. “It looks to me like we’re trying to be the cheapest college in the state of Missouri as opposed to being competitive.”

Bauer said he didn’t want to balance the budget entirely on the students.

“We want to make sure we’re as lean as possible and at the same time priced right,” he said.

Johnson suggested raising tuition more so the budget isn’t so tight anymore.

“I just hate this idea that we don’t have enough revenue to run this place as a first-class community college,” she said.

Trustee Cookie Hays said she understood where Johnson was coming from.

“I’m encouraged to hear discussion about not always needing to be the least expensive community college in the state,” she said. “It is good to keep tuition affordable, but that doesn’t mean we need to be the least expensive.”

Trustee Eric Park noted the potential risk of making changes on the revenue portion without also knowing what’s on the expenditure side of the budget.

“Having only known the revenue side without the budget side we may be imposing the strengths on the budget side,” Park said. 

Bauer said he wanted to bring this recommendation to the trustees early enough so they still have time to vote on it before students begin registering for classes. 

“If the board feels we have not gone far enough in terms of tuition, we can come back in March,” Bauer said.