UCC Mainstream Online

Students pay as college balances budget

Budget and fees graphic
Alex Ivey / Mainstream

The 2014-15 academic year will begin with a larger financial burden for students as per credit and term fees are increased.

The board of trustees voted April 9 to raise the registration, technology, online course and hybrid course fees. Registering for classes will now cost an additional $10 as the per-term fee increases from $15 to $25. The technology fee will also increase from $5.50 to $6.50 per credit, and the fees for online and hybrid courses have increased by $10 per term to $35 for online and $25 for hybrid. However, in order to make applying to UCC easier for potential students, the $25 application fee has been eliminated.

“The various fee increases cover a variety of expenses,” Rebecca Redell, chief financial officer, said via email. “The increase to the registration fee is being used to offset the removal of the application fee. The increase in the technology fee is being used to cover the increased maintenance costs of the Banner program. The online fee increase is covering the costs for the personnel to maintain the LMS.” The current LMS, or learning management system, being used on and off campus is Angel.

Students had the opportunity to offer feedback before the fee changes were passed.

“Prior to the approval by the Board, the fee increases were discussed and presented at several ASUCC Student Leadership Team meetings, at UCC Budget meetings and at UCC College Council meetings,” Marjan Coester, director of student life, said via email. “Students participate in all three meetings and were able to provide their perspectives on the proposed fee increases.”

However, only a small number of students turned out for these meetings, and the low turnout may have been due to a limited time to inform students.

“The short timeline for notification may have made it challenging for students to block the time out of their schedules,” Coester said.

While negative feedback over the fee increases has also been minimal, the heightened costs will still hit student bank accounts; however, students may find relief from the trustee board’s decision to place a one-year moratorium on tuition increases.            

“Feedback has been generally neutral or positive,” Redell said. “Increasing costs are well understood. We were happy that we were able to maintain the 2013-14 tuition rates.”

As the state continues to reform higher education, college administrators must continue to balance their budgets during uncertain economic times.

“It is difficult to predict the future.” Redell said. “We are hopeful that community colleges will receive an increased allocation from the state in the next funding cycle.”

The extent to which tuition and fees will be mitigated will largely depend on the amount of additional funding colleges and universities can secure. Part of the strategy to increase funding will be to meet and work with new state legislators.

“We’re losing two very strong advocates with Bruce [Hanna] and Tim [Freeman],” UCC President Joe Olson said to the board of trustees. “And I would like to get ahead of the curve in terms of working with whoever the new legislators may be.”