Harford Community College students, who can begin registering for fall semester classes April 1, will not see an increase in their tuition for the fall. But tuition is slated to increase by 2% for the spring 2022 semester as college officials continue to find ways to balance their budget for next year and keep offering programs at the same level HCC offers now.
“It’s important to maintain a level of fiscal responsibility for continuing the programs that we currently offer on campus,” Trevor Jackson, vice president for finance and administration, said during a meeting of the HCC Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
The trustees approved, for the summer and fall 2021 semesters, rates of $132.87 per credit hour for students who live in Harford County, $226.11 for out-of-county students and $319.34 for out-of-state students.
Rates for the winter, spring and summer 2022 terms will increase by 2% to $135 for Harford County students, $230 for out of county and $325 for out-of-state students.
“These tuition rates take into consideration the current state of the economy, the current unemployment rates in the state of Maryland, and specifically, the overall impact of the current pandemic and the impact that it’s had on students and families financially,” Jackson said.
The board did not increase tuition for the current fiscal year “for these same reasons and these same impacts” of the pandemic and struggling economy, according to Jackson.
Jackson also cited “a lack of state funding” as the primary reason for increasing tuition in 2022. Community colleges in Maryland “are meant to be funded equally by the county, the state and students,” with about a third of revenues coming from local governments, a third from the state and a third from tuition and fees.
“Currently, the county is funding the college at 36%, and we want to thank them for their support,” Jackson said.
The largest share, 39%, is coming from tuition, and then the state is “lagging a little behind” at 25%, according to Jackson. The amount of state funding for next year could change, according to one member of the Board of Trustees.
The trustees approved in January a $51.6 million preliminary operating for next year. That proposal, which is lower than the current operating budget by more than $737,000, reflects how the pandemic has affected HCC and other community colleges in Maryland, as the state made a significant cut to higher education funding last July.
Officials with HCC are working to reduce an anticipated deficit in next year’s budget. That deficit stood at $3.9 million as of October but is now down to less than $500,000, Dr. Richard Streett III, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, said as he delivered the report of the board’s finance and audit committee Tuesday.
“All efforts continue to be made to reduce the deficit even further as we speak,” said Streett, who noted that “we are encouraged by an increase in expected state funding to community colleges throughout the state.”
Next year’s HCC budget will be finalized in June once the county and state have approved their budgets for fiscal 2022.
Streett mentioned several initiatives the college is using to decrease the deficit and find savings, including reducing the cost of contracts for software, reducing unemployment insurance costs and not filling two senior-level administrative positions.
The college also anticipates “a slight increase in credit enrollment, from prior predictions, starting in the fall,” Streett said.
Latest Harford County
He also noted the proposal to keep tuition rates flat for the fall, “to do our best to support those still in need from the challenges experienced through this pandemic,” but raising them for the spring “in an effort to curb higher increases in future years.”