HCC tuition going up $5 per credit to $87 for county residents

Harford Community College students will have to pay $5 more per credit hour – $3 per credit less than originally proposed – next year to compensate for public funding reductions.

HCC's board of trustees approved a measure during its monthly meeting Tuesday evening to raise the resident tuition rate to $87 per credit hour and $174 for non-Harford County residents. The change is reflected in the college's fiscal year 2013 operating budget.

It was originally proposed that students pay $8 more per credit hour, but was reduced because the so-called state "doomsday budget" was not implemented by the state.

The doomsday budget, which was avoided by actions taken during the Maryland General Assembly's special session last month, would have reduced funding for the college by $1 million.

Overall, the new HCC operating budget will be $46,190,288.

Even with the tuition increase this year, it's only $12 more than what students were paying in 2004, and $4 less than the second lowest tuition rate for community colleges in the state, Stephen Phillips, assistant vice president for finance and budget, told the trustees.

"We're well below the system-wide average," Phillips said.

"HCC understands the constraints on public funding," documents provided to the board read. "The funds that have been reduced represents what would have been recurring operating revenues to support the college. With the reduction in the Cade Funding formula and county funding, the college has limited the growth in expenditures during a time when enrollments increased."

As for county and state funding, HCC expects the county's contributions next fiscal year to remain flat at $14,961,612 and a projected increase of $271,638 in state funds for a total of $9,990,806.

The fiscal year 2013 operating budget has a decrease of .25 percent in revenues, Phillips said. Because of this, expenditures will decrease by the same amount, or by $114,712.

Full-time and part-time employees, however, will still see a 2 percent wage increase, but step increases for faculty are not included. The salary adjustment will cost $567,184.

First Year Experience program

The college's First Year Experience program is proving to be successful so far, but still has a way to go, the trustees were told by two people in charge of it.

Brian Hammond, coordinator for admissions, and Susan Muaddi-Darraj, associate professor of English, spoke about the program and said it is moving at a "slow, but steady pace."

About 40 percent of community colleges around the county require students to take a first year seminar, Muaddi-Darraj said, and at the University of South Carolina, where the program originated, a course is offered.

Currently, Hammond said, a freshman seminar, survival guide and faculty liaison program has been initiated as part of First Year Experience. They hope to also have a companion website, social networking presence and a head-start week for students.

Trustee John Haggerty asked how the program works so far.

Muaddi-Darraj, explained that the two main parts of First Year Experience is the seminar, which focuses on learning skills for success, forming relationships with the faculty and engaging in campus life, and then the survival guide, which focuses on delivering all of that information to the Student Center for students to pick up.

Vice Chair James Valdes commented that financial skills aren't mentioned in the survival guide.

"It's not our role here as a college [to teach that]," Valdes said, "but we are a community college, so maybe it is."

The program touching upon basic financial knowledge during the seminar, Hammond said, and also in a money skills workshop that is offered to students.

There was also a seminar that was offered as three sections of class, Muaddi-Darraj said.

The students that registered were mostly those who had been on academic probation.

"The students did not do so well overall," she noted. About 73 percent of those who took the course in the spring earned A, B or C grades.

Muaddi-Darraj added that they would "try again in the fall and see how well the numbers are."

Haggerty asked with so many other colleges offering First Year courses, "is that the eventual goal for everyone to take the course" at HCC?

"If we prove that the student who take the course wind up doing better in the next semester," Muaddi-Darraj said.

More data needs to be collected first before any decisions are made. Making it a mandatory class, however, is something they want to avoid doing as they want to make sure there's a need for such a class.

"We want to make sure this is an effective program before we even entertain the idea of making this a mandatory program," said HCC President Dennis Golladay.

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