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Board approves $5.50 per credit hour tuition increase

  • Harper College News Bureau
  • February 19, 2016

The Harper College Board of Trustees, with the Student Government Association’s endorsement, has approved increasing tuition $5.50 per credit hour starting in the summer 2016 term.

The 4.2 percent increase will cost a full-time student (15 credit hours) an additional $82.50 per semester. The increase reflects a policy adopted by the Board to approve yearly increases that keep tuition costs manageable and predictable for students.

The SGA said they recognize the increase is necessary given the ongoing financial challenges facing all community colleges in Illinois.

“With frozen property taxes, insignificant inflation, and a lack of state funding, we agree with the college administration there does not seem to be another current, quick, and feasible option to maintain the quality of Harper College other than via a graduated yearly increase of student tuition,” SGA President Eric DeBold said.

With the state of Illinois’ budget impasse now in its eighth month, Harper hasn’t received a single dollar of the approximately $7 million of state funding it is owed. Even before the stalemate, Illinois community colleges were already experiencing decreasing support from the state. Under the original concept, the state was to fund one-third (33%) of the per capita costs of community colleges, with tuition and property taxes covering the remaining costs. The state’s percentage of the per capita cost at Harper had fallen to 4.5% last year, the lowest level of state support since Harper began operating in 1967.

“Despite the unprecedented situation facing higher education in Illinois, the Board is committed to maintaining tuition at a level that keeps Harper College affordable and accessible,” said Gregory Dowell, Chair of the Harper College Board of Trustees. “While the tuition adjustment is small, we understand that no increase is ‘minor’ to a student who is struggling to finance their education. We will work to run the College as efficiently as possible without compromising its unmatched academic quality and rigor.”

Tuition will increase from $113.75 to $119.25 per credit hour beginning in the summer 2016 term. The construction and renovation fee will remain the same at $9 per credit hour. The technology fee will also remain unchanged at $7 per credit hour. The cost for a full-time student (30 credit hours) will increase by $165 per year, to $4,057.50.

Harper’s tuition remains less than a third of the tuition charged by Northern Illinois University, a quarter of the tuition at the University of Illinois and a small fraction of the cost of the first two years at a private university.

Harper’s tuition increase will be covered for students who are eligible for financial aid under the federal Pell Grant Program and, if the state follows through with its commitment, the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP). Last year, about 4,200 Harper students received federal and state financial aid totaling $18.8 million. The Harper College Educational Foundation, the fundraising arm of the College, also distributed about $785,000 in scholarships, grants and awards. More than 450 students received scholarships last year.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure no student is turned away from Harper solely because of financial reasons,” said Harper College President Dr. Kenneth Ender. “We will continue to weather this storm and work to prevent our students from falling victim to the ongoing political game of chicken in Springfield.”

Media contact:Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159