The College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois projected an $8.7 million deficit in its budget for the next fiscal year and has begun scouting for ways to address the shortfall without increasing the cost of tuition.
College President Lori Suddick said that the estimate is based on a possible 12 percent decline in enrollment rather than the absence of a tuition hike. An increase of $1 per credit would bring in $204,244 in additional revenue but Suddick believes that the deficit can be resolved in other ways that do not further burden students financially.
“This is the first time in a long time there is no change [in tuition cost]. If we go in this direction [other revenue sources], I don’t think it’s a big risk,” she said.
The Board of Trustees met virtually last week and agreed to avoid a tuition increase. They also proposed college administration into the use of reserves when it becomes necessary.
Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funds can also be considered as another source of funds to “address revenue loss” and “enrollment decline planning,” according to Trustee Amanda Howland.
“We have the onetime use of reserves. We certainly have a healthy reserve. There are a lot of ways in which we can strategically cause the right things to happen, and bring forth a balanced budget,” she said.
Another plan to grow revenue would be through a 2.3 percent increase in property taxes. Ken Gotsch, the school’s vice president of business services and finance, said that the approved real estate levy will surely bring money to the college.
Other trustees voiced contrasting opinions since a small yet steady tuition increase will work better and be more affordable for students compared to a substantial hike in the near future if alternatives are deemed insufficient.
Tuition Hike Reactions
In the midst of the current economic uncertainty, solutions that primarily rely on tuition increases have been markedly unpopular with students.
A number of institutions such as Princeton University and the University of Delaware have been sued for charging full tuition despite providing only online classes or failing to provide sufficient refunds.
Students at Columbia University even went on a tuition strike when the Ivy League school did not concede demands for a 10 percent tuition discount.