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Tuition on the rise at City Colleges

Posted by gradefund on December 5, 2008

Tuition on the rise at City Colleges
BY PETER SACHS / Education reporter
December 02, 2008 | 1:00 PM

City Colleges students can expect to pay 10 percent more on their tuition bills starting this summer.

The increase is the first in two years, and tuition will keep going up each year until at least 2011.

By the summer of 2011, students will be paying $89 per credit hour – 24 percent more than the current rate of $72 per credit hour.

The Board of Trustees for the city colleges unanimously approved the tuition increases today despite complaints that some students would not be able to afford the increase or did not even know the hike was being considered.

No one in the audience at the meeting today spoke on the tuition increases or any other agenda items. An early copy of today’s agenda obtained by the Daily News described the item dealing with the tuition increase as a vote to “Amend the rules for the management and government of the City Colleges of Chicago.” 

District spokeswoman Elsa Tullos was unable to provide more information about that agenda item when a reporter called her Monday afternoon. 

The vague wording would have made it difficult for students worried about rising bills to find out about the tuition increase in advance and comment publicly before the board OK’d the increase.

On the heels of the vague agenda, a detailed information packet was handed out at the meeting this morning. The line describing the hike was succinct: “Resolution to set tuition, fees and charges for board programs.”

“The students simply cannot afford it and my fear is … it will push them out and I do not want to do that,” says Shamil Clay, the student representative to the board. Clay does not have a vote on board matters.

On questioning from Board Chairman James Tyree, district officials said students had been informed of tuition increases, and some had been told the cost for each credit would go up $10. Other students, however, weren’t given a number.

“The question we got back from students was, ‘How much?’” said John Wozniak, the president of Harold Washington College. “When we had our discussion (with the students) we didn’t know.”

District officials said they talked with student groups, including the Student Government Association, or SGA, about the proposed increases.

“Some of the SGA representatives were not happy about this, but they certainly understood,” says Ken Gotsch, the district’s finance director.

Tyree said after the meeting that he would make sure all students found out about the tuition increases.

“The president has acknowledged that students were aware of the increase and I’ll make sure .. that the word gets out,” Tyree said.

The tuition and fee increases are part of the district’s plan to deal with projected budget shortfalls in the coming years.

The district is cutting some of its travel expenses, trying to save on its utility bills and increasing  average class sizes slightly. The district may also start charging outside groups a fee to rent district meeting spaces, and drivers may have to pay to park in the garage being built at Truman College.

“We believe the impact of all these expenditure reductions and revenue increases … will have our budget being balanced in 2010,” Gotsch says. “There’s still some work to be done in 2011 and 2012.”

In other business, the board today also unanimously approved a new ethics policy for the district. There was no discussion of the changes.

Among the changes, a board member could be a contractor for district services or products, as long as the board member’s connections to the district were fully disclosed and there was no other company who could handle the contract.

Peter Sachs is a Chicago-based journalist. He covers higher education for the Daily News.

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