Parkland College board approves tuition hike

12% increase from last year

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - CHAMPAIGN -- Leaders at Parkland College say, without state funding, they had no choice but to make a major tuition hike. They're raising it 12%. Officials say, even that will barely cut it.

So far, they've managed to get by better than many other community colleges and universities, but they realize what consequences this will have for students; a group which has just about had enough.

This meeting is a lot quieter than the state Capitol was earlier Wednesday. Protestors from "Cuts Mean Us" spared no silence in demanding funding for higher education. The decision the Parkland Board of Trustees made will probably create some noise, too.

"We're funded, in theory, three ways. Tuition, local property taxes, like K through 12, and then the state."

CFO Christopher Randles says they're running out of options. They're taxing at the highest rate they can and the state budget would have provided $5 million dollars. That leaves tuition.

"We need to raise tuition in the neighborhood of 11 or 12 percent, and that would still create a deficit of about $3.5 million."

Randles says normally, Parkland's tuition increases about 5 to 7 percent each year, but the hike the board approved for this year is about twice that. The numbers he's going by assume Parkland won't get a dime of the $5 million the state currently owes them, and only half of its funding from the upcoming state budget.

"The board is also keenly aware of community colleges needing to be affordable and be accessible and not wanting to out-price people, so there's that balance there."

"If people can't afford higher education here, if there's no budget for education and our programs are constantly falling behind, we're not going to be attracting the best students."

Leah Matchett helped organize the "Cuts Mean Us" protest in Springfield. Almost 300 students from eight campuses attended.

"Especially at the community college level, I find it incredibly devastating because we've told these students that to put yourself on a better plane, to make your life better, is to go to community college. Get a job. This is your chance. It's going to be affordable, it's going to be doable, and you can take your career to the next level, and you're going back on that promise."

Randles says even though they're making do without money from the current budget cycle, if they don't get any funding for the upcoming one, they'll have to start laying people off.

So, how much more will Parkland students pay next year? Right now, tuition is about $140 per credit hour for students living within Parkland's district. That will soon be $157. A student taking 12 credit hours will be paying about $200 per semester extra. It doesn't include additional course fees.

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