Increase of $7 per credit hour

The Butler Community College administration will increase the tuition and fee rates for YE 2018 by seven dollars per credit hour. This means full-time students will be paying at least $84 more per semester. The increase affects students from Butler County, other in-state students and out-of-state students. However, tuition and fees for international students will remain the same.
The tuition and fee rates per credit hour for YE 2018 will be $98 for Butler County students, $109 for other in-state students, $169 for out-of-state students and $214 for international students.
"We estimate that will increase our revenues by around 1,035,000 dollars," Kent Williams, vice president of finance at BCC, said.
These will be the highest tuition and fee rates the college has had for at least the last 20 years – except for international students, whose tuition and fee rates are lower than they were in YE 2011-2015. The rates for all students have nearly doubled since YE 1997. However, the raised cost is not the highest percentage increase in tuition and fees from one year to the next that BCC has made for any given student. Yet, the college has increased these rates steadily since YE 1997 – with the exception of a few years where the rates decreased or stayed the same as the preceding year for some students.
The college still wants to maintain a certain level of enrollment while increasing tuition and fees.
"I think we talked last month at the work session that a seven dollar increase will have a fairly minimum impact on the enrollment's demand; it's manageable. We want to try to maintain enrollment at about 182,000 credit hours as a base. Historically, when we get below that, the revenue base erodes too much. And so we want to try to build from 182,000, [and] this keeps us in that range. It makes it manageable," Gene George, associate vice president of research and institutional effectiveness, said.
Compared to past tuition and fees increases at BCC, a seven dollar raise per credit hour is significant in size.
"I've been here quite a few years, and we've only had an increase this large or larger one time since I've been here. So this is a fairly substantial increase for our students. But we're in difficult budget times, as we're all aware, too. So we see it as being justified, but we do recognize the extra burden that we put on our students," Williams said.
The increase is part of a bigger strategic plan for the college.
"We're working on a three-year strategy for enrollment management, including a three-year plan for tuition and fees. An increase of this size was part of that plan for fiscal 2018. Also, we're planning, in limited steps, to manage the high school tuition rate – where we talked about that at the work session last month. The third leg of the tuition strategy for the next three years is to develop a pathways-oriented tuition pricing model that will be based on program costs instead of just institutional revenue needs. It will be based on program value for our students, affordability for the programs and cost benefit for the students. We're working on that. That's something that we'll develop over the next year, and that's something we intend to bring to the board for fiscal '19 for discussion for action. It will include not only a tuition pricing structure that's tied closer to costs, but will also include a series of incentives and other tuition waivers, if you will, or scholarships that will incentivize students to stay in programs. We don't know exactly what that would look like yet, but the seven dollar increase we're proposing tonight is the first step toward moving toward that pathways model," George said.
The college will also raise room and meal plan rates an overall 3.3 percent for FY 2018. Including a 19-meals-per-week meal plan, the total annual charge for student residents will be $4,900 for West Hall, $6,000 for Cummins Hall and East Hall and $6,300 for BCC Apartments.
"Quite frankly, we've filled our residence halls in the fall for the last, I don't know, 15 years I believe – or something like that. And we believe that this is basically going to allow us to stay in the black with our operations of residence life, which is where we want to be. At one point in time, the residence halls cost us money, but they're not anymore. They're basically breaking even or a little bit in the black, especially with the housing portion. Meals is kind of an in and out. We don't make money on the meal plan, and if we do, we have to pay taxes on that. So it's kind of a balancing act trying to make sure you stay pretty even with that," Bill Rinkenbaugh, vice president of student services, said.
These will be the highest total room and meal plan rates the college has had for at least the last 20 years. The rates have nearly doubled since the 1995/1996 school year. However, it's not the highest percentage average increase from one year to the next that the college has made for room and meal plan rates. Yet, the college has increased these rates steadily since the 1995/1996 school year – with the exception of the 2014/2015 school year, where it stayed the same as the year before. The FY 2018 increase for room and meal plan rates passes through an estimated 3 percent meal plan increase from the college's food service provider, Great Western Campus Dining.
Levi Yager can be reached at lyager@butlercountytimesgazette.com.