Harford Community College trustees raise tuition $5 per credit hour

The Harford Community College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to raise tuition by $5 per credit hour next year, with another $5 increase coming in 2015.

The increase from $87 to $92 for in-county students, which will begin July 1, 2013, passed by an 8-1 margin during the board's monthly meeting in the Chesapeake Center. The out-of-county rate is currently $174.

Trustee John Haggerty voted against the bill, citing issues with transparency.

"I feel that I have personally gotten modest information of what you all are doing with the budget," Haggerty said to the other board members and to Vice President of Finance and Operations Frederick Johnson before the vote.

Also approved by the board as part of the tuition increase was a one-time consolidated fee increase of $5 to support campus technology initiatives. The current fee is 12 percent of the county resident tuition rate, or approximately $10.50 per credit hour.

The board also voted Tuesday to approve the 2012 Performance Accountability Report, which the college submits annually to the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The report includes an outline of how Harford Community College serves employers and schools as well as details about the college's progress in achieving its goals. The board unanimously approved the report.

After reviewing the campus weapons policy last month and finding it more than satisfactory, the board had questions Tuesday as to what constitutes a "weapon of any kind" under the policy. The board voted to make sure that the policy's definition of a weapon is in accordance with Maryland criminal law.

Up $15 since 2010

Tuesday's action on tuition rates by the HCC board is the third $5 increase approved since 2010, when the in-county rate was $77 a credit hour.

Increases of $5 per credit hour were approved for mid-2010 and then again for mid-2012. Prior to 2010, in-county tuition at HCC had been $77 per credit hour since 2007.

There was no increase in mid-2011.

According to the college's website, HCC has about 9,750 full-time and part-time students, of whom about 9,000 are Harford County residents.

HCC's new in-county tuition rate of $92 next year will still be less than Cecil College's in-county rate of $95 per credit hour. The three Community College of Baltimore County campuses in Essex, Dundalk and Catonsville charge $106 per credit hour for county residents, according to the colleges websites.

HCC explains increase

Wednesday morning, the college issued a news release explaining the rationale behind the tuition increase.

"The College's focus on a multi-year tuition schedule allows our students to plan for what they will pay in tuition over the next two years," trustees Chairman Bryan Kelly said in the release. "At the same time, the Board's emphasis on long-term planning demonstrates our commitment to offering the highest quality of instruction and student services while ensuring the fiscal health of the College. This modulated approach will also minimize the risk of students seeing a dramatic tuition increase in a single year."

The board will continue to look two years in advance of its budget and make adjustments to tuition and fees based on the changing economic climate and student needs, according to the release. "While the Board cannot guarantee future tuition rates, this plan gives students much needed assurance of costs for at least two years."

"Harford Community College continues to be an affordable choice for quality higher education close to home," HCC President Dr. Dennis Golladay said in the release. "I often hear from our students that they know tuition will increase, but they're never sure how much or exactly when. The key word here for them is certainty. The Board's commitment to this schedule addresses that question."

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