Board of Trustees raises tuition 2.9%, passes mid-year budget

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By Caleb Day

Students returning to Grand Rapids Community College next year, as well as those attending for the first time, will see a 2.9 percent tuition increase.

The increase equates to an extra $3 per contact hour for residents, $6.50 for non-residents and $9.50 for out-of-state residents. Vice President of Admin and Finance Lisa Freiburger said she expects the tuition boost to generate an estimated $1.3 million in revenue for the college.

“We all want to keep tuition as low as we possibly can,” Freiburger said. “We were able to keep (the increases) to a minimum and are proud that we can offer a high value opportunity at a very reasonable cost.”

The tuition hike was one of several attempts made to balance the budget in the wake of dropping enrollment. Actual student enrollment for the 2013/2014 school year was 5 percent below budget for the fall semester and 6.9 percent under for the winter semester.

Further attempts to offset decreased revenue include an upcoming cut in adjunct and overload faculty hours. Meaning that students planning to return to GRCC next year may be seeing a little less of their favorite part-time instructors, while full-time faculty will remain unaffected by the cuts.

Some relief came in the form of the Affordable Care Act delay, which had to be compensated for in an earlier budget proposal. The delay saved the college approximately $750,000, at least until next year when it goes into full effect.

Utilizing every option at their disposal, the school took $250,000 from the Budget Stabilization Fund, a sort of ‘rainy day’ reserve intended to help balance the budget.

The 2013/2014 Proposed Mid-year Budget was approved at a 5-2 vote.

“There are people who are unhappy with the work that had to be done,” said President Steven Ender, acknowledging that the relatively low cost of tuition is a huge draw for students attending GRCC. “The problem is not going away, we are going to have some tough decisions in the future,” Ender said, alluding to the ongoing discussion of next year’s budget.

Precautions are being taken to compensate for a projected 2 percent enrollment decrease next year. The administration has scheduled a presentation on the 2014/2015 budget for Wednesday, a recording of which will be made available for public viewing. For further updates, check back at TheCollegiatelive.com.

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