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BCC tuition, fees may increase in 2011
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The trustees at Barton Community College are looking at raising the rates for tuition, fees or both for the fall 2011 semester, but one scenario also has local students getting a price break.

Fees were reviewed at a board study session last week. A $1 tuition increase for all students would create about $90,224 additional revenue, and $1 more in fees would generate about $99,673, according to estimates from Barton administrators. The difference is because some students receive scholarships for tuition.

The current cost of tuition per credit hour at Barton is $54 for Kansas students, $85 for out-of-state students, $137 for international students and $54 for BartOnline students. Fees are $30 per credit for all except online students, who pay $76 per credit.

Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said seven of the state’s 19 community colleges offer students from their home counties a lower tuition/fee rate than in-state students from outside the county. The savings to local students ranges from $5.50 for Montgomery County students at Independence Community College to $15 in Johnson County. Some Barton trustees said they would be interested in a lower rate for in-county students here, since the college is supported by Barton County property taxes.

Dean of Administration Mark Dean noted counties used to pay a fee for each student that attended a community college in an outside county. That was done away with when the Legislature agreed to provide more state aid to make up the loss, but the state dropped the added funding after only a few years. The funding formula for Kansas community college could see revisions.

"It’s fair to charge more for those outside the county," trustee Robert Feldt said.

Trustee Mike Johnson suggested reducing the Barton County tuition by $1 and increasing the out-of-county rate by $2, but said he’d want to know what impact that would have on the college’s Fort Riley enrollment. Heilman said that scenario will be provided to trustees before the issue is placed on an agenda for action next year.

Johnson noted a $1 discount to local students isn’t much, but would be "a start." It establishes a position and could grow over time, he said.

Heilman noted that a significant tuition increase was approved a year ago for the current fiscal year, and fees were last increased for the 2009-10 school year. Among other community colleges in Kansas, Barton ranks in the top one-third or one-forth for tuition/fee rates, depending on the type of student. For Kansas residents, Barton’s tuition and fees total $84, which is higher than all but four other community colleges: Colby ($87), Cloud County ($88), Johnson County ($90) and Highland Community College ($90). The lowest rate is $60, at Coffeyville Community College. Pratt and Hutchinson are both in the middle at $79.

The administration doesn’t mind ranking above average, Heilman said, noting community colleges continue to draw students because their tuition and fees and considerably lower than those at four-year institutions.