A Evening Sun story yesterday on community college tuition misstated the reduction in state aid to Maryland community colleges, which amounts to a 25 percent drop.
The story also mistakenly compared the new tuition rate of $48 a credit hour at Baltimore County community colleges with rates no longer in effect elsewhere. The correct rates for community colleges in the following counties are: Anne Arundel, $54; Harford, $56; Howard, $53; and Frederick, $56.
The Evening Sun regrets the errors.
In a move to make up part of a 10 percent reduction in state aid to community colleges across the state, the trustees of the three Baltimore County campuses have agreed to raise tuition and fees.
The new tuition rate, effective in January, will be $48 a course credit hour for in-county students, an increase of $9. A typical
course is worth three credit hours. A full-time course load is usually 15 credit hours, but most students in the system are part-timers who take about six. Three-quarters of the 25,785 students live in the county.
Officials say the higher charges to students would enable them to maintain existing course offerings and staff at least through next spring. They plan to cover the rest of the loss in state aid through austerity plans already in place that sharply curtail new hiring, overtime pay, equipment purchases and other spending.
Students who traveled to Dundalk Community College last night to watch the trustees approve the higher rates by a vote of 8-2 said they are willing to pay more tuition if that would preserve the present curriculum and staff.
"We don't want to lose programs," said Mohamed Mtimet, president of student government at Catonsville Community College. "We don't want to come back in the spring and find library hours cut down. I'd rather pay than lose the services and the programs."
For those who live in Maryland but outside the county, the charge per credit hour will rise from $74 to $91. For out-of-state students, the rate will go from $123 to $151. In addition, the
trustees instituted a new fee to all students of $5 for registration and $20 for senior citizens who are exempt from most tuition charges.
The trustees said the new, in-county rate would equal that of Anne Arundel Community College, surpass Harford Community College by $1 and fall short of the $52 rate charged at Howard and Frederick.
The Board of Trustees of Baltimore County Community Colleges governs three separate, independent campuses -- Dundalk, Essex and Catonsville -- plus a branch of Catonsville in Westminster.
The faculties and staffs of the three schools also will bear some of the financial pain through a three-day furlough, which the trustees said would cost the average faculty member about $400 in lost salary.
The system stands to lose $8.2 million in state aid, according to college officials, which amounts to more than 10 percent of the total operating budget of the three colleges. The new tuition and fees cover only about a quarter of that loss.
Administrators such as Michael Carey, dean of planning and development at Catonsville, say that the new revenue, combined with budget constraints, will allow his college to carry all its current course offerings into the spring. But, Carey said, "some may be a little more crowded."
The $9 increase per credit hour for in-county students was a compromise among the trustees. The original proposal from the trustees' finance committee, backed by the college presidents, was for an $11 increase.
But trustee Alan J. Ferguson said the students shouldn't be forced to bear so much of the loss in state aid, since they already began the fall semester paying $2 more per credit hour than last year. He proposed raising the tuition by $7.
The trustees split the difference.
"I can't tell you how painful this is," said Board Chairman John Q. Kluttz III, as he opened discussion of the tuition increase. "There is no way to make this not painful."