Board of trustees vote to raise tuition next semester
Parkland’s board of trustees voted on Feb. 17 to raise the tuition rate by 11 percent, a measure they and the administration hope will help offset the college’s financial woes.
The President of Parkland College Tom Ramage explained that the college relies on three different sources of funding. When one or more of those sources is cut, then the college must make some tough decisions.
“There are three ways to keep the college open; state money, property taxes, and tuition; we’re down one big one,” Ramage said, regarding the state’s financial hole. “We’ve done the best we can on property taxes. The only thing we have left in terms of revenue is tuition.”
It is the goal of Parkland College to provide a quality education at an affordable price. Ramage explained that the college may have to make some cuts in other areas, in addition to increasing the cost of tuition, but those cuts should not affect any programs.
“Nothing is affecting students’ education yet,” Ramage said.
He explained that the students may have to wait in longer lines in the financial aid office, or there may perhaps be fewer sports teams but the quality of education will remain intact. Chairman of the board Dana Trimble shared the same sentiment.
“We are in a difficult position because the state has not been able to come to any resolution when it comes to funding higher education,” Trimble said. “We’re limited in the number of ways we can balance a budget. The reputation of this institution is excellent. We don’t want to do anything to tarnish that reputation and we don’t want to cheat any of the students that pay to come here. We want them to have the highest quality education possible.”
Trimble claimed that the quality faculty of Parkland will remain in place and students will continue to receive the best education possible. He explained that although the decision to raise tuition rates was not ideal, the fact that a decision has been made is a step in the right direction.
“The positive thing is that it gives administration direction with what this board feels like we have to do in order to keep the lights on and keep quality high,” Trimble said.
Not all of the members of the board supported Wednesday’s decision. Board member Donna Giertz expressed her discontent with the vote.
Giertz explained that she does not think all of the options were explored before a decision was made. She has been a board member for over a decade and has witnessed what she referred to as unwise decisions during her tenure. She claimed that circumstances other than state funding are contributing factors to the current financial situation the college faces.
“An 11 percent increase in tuition is a lot at one time,” Giertz said. “I realize that we have financial problems, there’s no question about that, but previous board members have made poor decisions in terms of spending.”
There is a chance increased tuition costs may have an impact on future enrollment rates, which have been trending downward in recent years. The Dean of Enrollment Management Julie Marlatt expressed hope in regard to sustaining current enrollment numbers.
“I can’t predict the future, I really can’t,” Marlatt said. “I’m hoping that with the enrollment efforts that we have been ramping up—and we had larger attendance at the visit day—if we keep heading in that direction with some of the initiatives that we’ve been doing, I am hoping to offset any declines that we see.”