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MCC eyes tuition 

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College likely will raise tuition to make up for budget shortfalls, falling revenue and more than $1 million that was underbudgeted.

The board will discuss an increase Tuesday at its Committee of the Whole meeting.

During the budgeting process, an error overestimated the amount the college would collect in local property taxes by $1.27 million.

“It was an oversight,” MCC President Vicky Smith said

The budget did not factor in PTELL limitations. The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law limits the amount taxing bodies can collect at the Consumer Price Index. Instead, the budget used the college’s levy request, although the college never anticipated it would get the full amount.

Other revenue shortfalls mean the college has a $1.4 million deficit, which is made up by the college’s reserve funds.

The college’s total operating fund budget is $55.1 million, of which property taxes provide the biggest revenue source.

It will consider raising tuition to bridge the gap, and it must do so before summer registration begins in March.

“Tuition is the only area where the college has direct control over a source of funding,” Smith wrote last month in a report to college trustees.

A tuition hike also would cover salary increases the college agreed to with its bargaining units.

“Tuition rates should be set in order to help balance the budget and to bridge any gaps that may exist and to avoid depleting fund balances,” Smith wrote.

The college could consider $3, $4 and $5 increases per credit hour through fiscal 2016, according to the January report by the president.

That means the tuition rate would go from $99 this year to $102 in 2014, $106 in 2015 and $111 in 2016. Using that structure, the college could generate an additional $649,422 by 2016.

However, that added revenue provides for no growth in credit hours, despite the fact the college has predicted increases. Credit hours this year jumped 7.2 percent, the college has reported.

Smith said Friday that tuition increases presented last month could change, but she declined to give specifics before Tuesday’s meeting. The college does not provide detailed packet information before its Committee of the Whole meetings as it does for its regular board meetings.

“We are going to recommend a multiyear plan for tuition increases so we won’t have major ups and downs students would have to deal with,” Smith said.

The college last raised its tuition in 2011, when it went to $99 per credit hour. Tuition and fees charged to students were $47 per credit hour in 2000. There was a double-digit percentage increase in 2003, when the total cost of a credit hour went up 11.8 percent to $57 from $51, according to college documents.

If you go

What: McHenry County College Committee of the Whole

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Board Room (A217) at the college, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake

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