It is official. It will cost more to attend Montgomery County Community College this upcoming semester.
The college adopted its budget for the school year, which includes an 8 percent increase in tuition for students.
Just a month ago, county commissioners announced they would cut more than $5 million to the college. The commissioners received a recommendation from Chief Financial Officer Uri Z. Monson.
Monson and his office have looked at every expense from the county, trying to figure out what will save money for the financially-troubled county.
“We work on a calendar budget as you know,” said chairman Josh Shapiro. “The college works on a fiscal year budget. In the past, commissioners, at times through a letter from the chair to the community college president, indicated what the commissioners would be providing in the budget and at other times, would pass a resolution and say what they would be doing.”
The prior administration did stress how important it was to not cut money in the middle of the school year. Now with school out for the summer, the new administration stepped in and told the college early that they would be funding the school with much less than usual.
“Our CFO provided a letter to [college president] Dr. Stout based on his recommendation for he would recommend to the commissioners when we do our budget in December,” Shapiro said.
While working on the new budget, the county could give more money next year. Right now the county contributes less than 20 percent of the college’s overall budget.
“We were serious when we said cuts were going to be made,” said Shapiro. “We are not singling out the community college. It just so happen that they needed some direction from the commissioners at this time relative to the timeline that they passed the budget.”
The new operating budget, slightly more than $72 million, calls for an increase of $9 per credit plus a $1 increase in fees. A three-credit course is now $405.
The county recently decided to give its county workers a raise that was promised to them.
“We have begun our zero based budgeting process which in no doubt yield savings and further cuts and it is just a reality of times that we are in,” said Shapiro. “We believe collectively that investing in the community college is an important thing to do, but we are also constrained by the fiscal realty of today and the situation that we inherited and that leaves to tough decisions that needs to be made.”
The higher cost of education still puts the college below most of higher educational institutions in the area.
“Even with the tuition increase the board has passed, they are still below the regional average and below the other regional colleges,” said Shapiro. “It is still a good bargain and still an incredible value for students to attend Montgomery County Community College.”