After four separate votes, the board of Southeast Community College has decided to raise tuition $4 per quarter hour this coming year as the school faces a large budget gap.
Student fees will also rise from $1.50 to $2 per hour. Board member Bob Feit fears setting too low of a tuition increase would make it difficult for the college to get back into black ink.
“I see how far down our tuition dollars are versus what our budget figures were,” Feit says. “We’re a million dollars under what we need to be. I’m sorry, I don’t think $3 is enough of an increase to try to catch us up.”
The increases in tuition and fees are expected to raise an additional $1.3 million. The board also voted to raise room and board rates 2% at the Milford campus and just under 2% in Beatrice.
“For years, we have been the lowest column of cost option and we have kept this as low as we can so we can do this,” Feit says, “but it’s catching up to us.”
Feit got support from other board members, including Terry Kubicek, who said SCC has promoted itself as the lowest-cost alternative to higher education, but there’s a need for more revenue.
Kubicek says, “Doing that may restrict our flexibility if we get hit with an unexpected expense or need, given the fiscal climate and to some degree, the climate in Washington, of its increased uncertainty every day.”
Opponents of the move say there are other ways to address a budget shortage, including growing the enrollment.
The average SCC student is taking on about $5,000 in debt to attend the college. Based on 30 semester hours, an SCC student will pay $3,037 after the change.
SCC has campuses in Beatrice, Milford and Lincoln.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice