ECC may raise tuition, but have lower taxes
By Dave Gathman email@example.com January 22, 2014 2:22PM
Elgin Community College president David Sam. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:11PM
ELGIN — Students at Elgin Community College may have to pay higher tuition again next class year, in part because low nationwide inflation is likely to cut tax bills for College District 509’s property owners.
ECC President David Sam raised the possibility of a tuition increase during a work session held by the board of trustees Tuesday night.
“I am not ready to make a recommendation yet,” Sam said. But he passed out a summary estimating what other community colleges in the area charge now. Sam said some of those other colleges are charging more than ECC.
Sam said that is partly because ECC froze its tuition rate for four straight years during the height of the recession, from 2007 through 2011.
ECC raised its tuition the last three school years, going up by $8 per hour two years ago, $6 per hour last school year and $4 per hour for this school year. It now stands at $109 per hour.
Sharon Konny, the vice president for business and finance, said that some unexpected bad financial news may make a tuition increase even more desirable. She said the final figure for the rise in the Consumer Price Index for 2013 was just 1.5 percent. The amount of increased taxes the college can levy for operating purposes is limited to the CPI rise, not including what can be collected from new or improved buildings.
When the tax levy and budget were being drafted, Konny said, they were based on an estimate that the CPI increase would be 2.5 percent. As a result, the college will be getting $500,000 less in local property tax income than expected over the next two fiscal years, Konny said.
The board of trustees member who would be most directly affected by a tuition boost, student representative Alejandro Molina Hoyos, said he would see no reason to oppose an increase.
Sam is expected to come back to the board with a proposed tuition figure when the trustees meet in March.
This year’s budget had projected that tuition would bring in 31 percent of the college’s revenue, with property taxes bringing 54 percent and most of the rest coming from state, federal and private grants and aid.