At their March 22nd regular meeting, Kirtland Community College’s Board of Trustees approved tuition and fee rates for the 2012-13 school year, which will be effective beginning with the summer term. A tuition increase of approximately 6.5 percent is necessary to offset declining revenue and enrollment projections and increasing insurance, retirement and heating/energy costs.
Kirtland’s funding formula is based on a combination of property tax revenue, state and federal aid, and student tuition fees, resulting in an annual operating budget of approximately $15,800,000. The following projections provided the data necessary to determine the tuition and fee rate increases:
- 3.5 percent decline in property tax revenue (approximately -$300,000)
- 8 percent to 10 percent decline in enrollment (approximately -$350,000)
- Increasing health insurance and retirement contribution costs (approximately $380,000)
- Rising health/energy costs (approximately $150,000)
As state appropriations continue to decline, Kirtland’s dependency on tuition charges has risen sharply in the last 10 years, from 27 percent (2000) to 45 percent of total revenue (2011). “Declining revenues dictate that there will be increased dependence on tuition revenues. Other community colleges throughout the state will be considering similar, if not higher, increases,” said Kirtland Community College President Dr. Thomas Quinn.
Even with the approved tuition and fee increases, Kirtland administrators still face the daunting task of identifying an additional $900,000 in cuts in order to present a balanced budget to the Board of Trustees for approval at the May 19th regular meeting. A portion of the increase is allocated to the development of several new programs including Health Information Technologies, Vascular Sonography and Grant Writing, which are all available entirely online. Mechatronics, a new facilities and industrial technology program designed to merge mechanical and electrical skills, will be offered at Kirtland’s M-TEC/Gaylord location and has been identified as one of ten emerging technologies in the United States.
“It is important to note that Kirtland is not cutting services. We recognize it is important to maintain services knowing that our citizens want and need affordable educational opportunities close to home,” added Quinn. “Kirtland’s tuition is still low and extremely competitive. We are affordable and provide a wide range of high-demand, relevant programs designed to get students the skills they need to be successful in a career or when transferring to a four-year college or university.”
In other action, the Board of Trustees approved a construction package authorizing the start of renovation work on the new West Branch facility located on M-76 near the I-75 Business Loop. In addition to housing Kirtland’s signature Surgery Technology program, the new West Branch facility will offer expanded general education course offerings. “We understand the challenge students face with rising costs in a struggling economic climate. Students can now save money in gas and travel expenses and take advantage of a larger selection of courses closer to home,” states Quinn.
In a 5-2 vote, the Board also approved a one-year extension of the college’s athletics program. And, at the next regular meeting on April 19th, the Board will continue to consider a committee recommendation to institute a campus-wide tobacco free policy and review the possible suspension of low-enrollment certificate programs.