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HCC officials concerned over lack of reimbursement for tuition waivers

Harford Community College lost nearly half a million dollars in revenue during the prior fiscal year because of tuition waivers community colleges across the state are required to grant.

Members of HCC's Board of Trustees and top administrators are concerned about the financial impact if the state legislature approves any more waivers.

Richard Norling, vice president of the Board of Trustees, recently told his fellow board members that the college lost $431,445 in revenue during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which ended June 30. He said that money lost to tuition waivers has not been reimbursed by the state.

"I just wanted to make sure all of the board members were aware of the issue," he said during the board's meeting Aug. 12.

Norling noted the $431,000 figure has not been subject to audit, but he does not it expect it to change significantly once it is audited.

He said Harford Community College and its sister institutions offer a number of tuition and fee waivers based on the status of certain students. The waivers vary; some cover the full tuition and fees, and others are only partial waivers.

Norling said waivers are granted to students who have disabilities, who are senior citizens, who work for companies headquartered in Harford County, who have been in foster care and who are members of the National Guard, as well as their dependents when members of the Guard are on active duty, plus students in a nursing program.

More information about applying for tuition waivers can be found on HCC's website, http://www.harford.edu/student-services/paying-for-college/tuition-waivers.aspx.

"I'm not saying any of these groups of people are not deserving, but we can't afford to keep expanding it at the college's and students' expense," Norling explained.

Building progress

Rick Johnson, vice president for finance and operations, spoke about the progress of several major campus construction projects during the board's Aug. 12 meeting, including Towson University's occupation of the $22 million Towson University in Northeastern Maryland building off Thomas Run Road.

Johnson said the building, where students living in Harford and Cecil counties can pursue four-year degrees from Towson, was turned over to TU earlier this month; the university's first day in the building was Aug. 6. Towson's fall term is scheduled to begin Aug. 27.

A memorandum of understanding between Towson and Harford has also been executed, which allows HCC to provide maintenance, food service, wastewater treatment and well water for the facility, Johnson continued.

The second and third floors of the three-story Darlington Hall, which will house all of the college's nursing and allied health programs, are about 85 percent complete, and the general contractor expects to turn the building over to college officials Oct. 3, Johnson said.

"The building is really shaping up well, and nursing and allied health really is going to have a great facility," Johnson said.

He said it will be "a matter of days" before the college obtains grading, demolition and building permits for construction of the Hickory Center, which will replace trailers east of the Joppa parking lot, and create space for storage, events and conferences and computer and technology services. The board approved a $1.9 million construction contract in June.

Johnson also reported that design work with Studio J of Delaware for renovating and expanding Edgewood Hall continues; he said college officials plan to put out advertisements for bidders around Dec. 1, and construction should begin in June 2015.

A right-turn lane, which is among the traffic mitigation measures the college must take as part of the Towson building project, has been completed at the intersection of Schucks Road and Route 22, Johnson reported.

Road names approved

Johnson and his fellow staffers applauded as the board unanimously approved the names for eight campus roads, a task more difficult than expected as Harford County officials rejected multiple name submissions.

Johnson said staffers "probably looked at in excess of 100 names," which were rejected because they were too close to an existing name of a county road, or that name had already been taken.

The names approved include Graduate Drive along the eastern edge of campus, starting at the entrance from Route 22; Quad Lane between the Student Center and the B parking lot; Cross Campus Drive, which connects Thomas Run Road to Graduate Drive; Success Way, which leads to the F parking lot; Constellation Way, which leads to the campus observatory; and then Alumni Lane, Fighting Owls Boulevard and Stadium Avenue, which are off Thomas Run Road and lead to administrative buildings and athletic facilities.

"They are needed because we do have emergency services visit us on a semi-regular basis," Johnson said of the road names.

Contracts approved

The board approved a $647,113 contract with Heidler Roofing Services Inc. of York, Pa., to remove and replace the aging and leaky roof on the Susquehanna Center next to the APG Federal Credit Union Arena.

Johnson said a thermal scan performed by an architect showed the insulation in the roof is saturated, and he noted leaks could be found throughout the building during a rain storm.

"There are numerous buckets, from the auxiliary gym to the locker room, that are basically picking up the water as it drips through," Johnson told board members.

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