Beginning with summer classes, students at Anne Arundel Community College will see their tuition go up - again.
The college's Board of Trustees approved this week a $7-per-credit increase in in-county tuition and higher student fees to help offset reductions in government funding.
Tuition for county residents would rise from $76 to $83 per credit hour, while residents of other Maryland counties would pay $159, a $30-per-credit increase, under the $74 million operating budget approved Tuesday night.
This marks the third time in a year that the board, reeling from millions in lost county and state funding, has raised tuition. Tuition is already up $14 per credit after a pair of increases this school year.
The latest move means that an in-county student taking 15 credits would pay $1,245 a semester, up from $1,140.
"The reason the board took this effort - and it was not one they took with great glee - is because they do not want to see slippage in one of our main mission mandates," said Linda Schulte, a spokeswoman for the college.
County Executive Janet S. Owens and the County Council must still approve the college budget in May, Schulte said, but the tuition increase will stand regardless.
In addition to tuition increases, the board raised student educational services fees from $1 to $3. Senior citizens taking classes would pay $40 per class, up from $30 this school year.
Laboratory fees were also added or modified for 150 courses, which the board expects will bring in $152,000.
And the board passed a 2 percent pay raise for faculty and staff for 2005. Salaries were frozen last year, Schulte said.
The budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is based on a 9 percent increase in county funds, or $984,000, and a 5 percent boost in state funds, about $2 million.
But Schulte said the community college is still in financial constraints, after two years of declines totaling $11.6 million.
"We're getting an increase from the year before, but bear in mind we're still down compared to what our needs have been," she said. "We're still making up ground."
Historically, the community college has been funded equally by tuition, state and county funding, but once both governments started cutting, the college began relying more heavily on tuition.
Tuition now accounts for about 39 percent of funding, up from about 33 percent two years ago, Schulte said.
The college has eliminated 35 campus services positions and kept 17 slots vacant. It also cut back on equipment replacement and campus improvements, Schulte said.
Despite the tuition increases, students are not blaming the college, said Paul Trader, president of AACC's Student Association.
"We are feeling kind of negative toward the state right now, though we support the governor," he said. "He's given us a couple million more than last year, but it's still not enough."
Trader, 19, a medical science major, said he has received letters from students complaining about the increases in tuition and fees, but he said he will speak in support of the board's budget at its March 9 meeting.
"For the students who were at the board meeting," he said, "they understand that they have to do this to keep the quality of education high."