Washington State Community College's Board of Trustees on Monday approved an increase in tuition and changes to fees, including replacement of the parking permit assessment with a tiered campus access and safety fee.
The new fee schedule was approved by a 6-0 vote with three trustees absent during the board's regular meeting in the college's Center for Business and Technology.
The $25-per-semester parking permit fee was eliminated in favor of the campus access and safety charge, which will vary depending on how many credit hours a student takes. Those enrolled for 12 or more credit hours will be assessed $75, while those taking four to 11 hours will be charged $50. Students taking three or fewer credit hours won't be charged.
Revenue from the fee, which will be assessed whether a student parks on campus or not, will go toward facilities, as well as additional services and security measures like cameras and an emergency text alert system, college Treasurer Jess Raines said.
"We're seeing other institutions who are moving away from calling it a parking fee," he said.
The new fee is expected to yield an additional $60,000 a year for the college.
Starting with the upcoming summer session, the college's tuition will increase from $133 per credit hour to $136, while the registration fee will go from $30 to $35. That will raise the price of tuition and fees for a full-time, in-state student taking 15 hours a semester to $4,240 for a full year, an increase of $100 over the current level.
That's the cap on tuition increases set forth in Ohio Gov. John Kasich's proposed biennial budget, and Raines said that looks likely to make it into the bill's final version. The access and safety fee is not included in the increase nor would it be affected by that provision.
Davis Powers, vice chairman of the board, said he had some concerns about raising prices.
"I worry a little bit when we keep doing increases. I know we have to, but I (am) trying to find the balance," he said.
Raines said the college has only two sources of revenue - support from the state and revenue from students. While the budget proposal would increase the overall amount of state support by 1.9 percent, Washington State is expected to see a 3 percent decrease, about $250,000.
"We obviously need to try to offset that to continue to offer everything that we're trying to do now," Raines said.
Trustee Larry Unroe noted the increase is "about 2 percent," which puts it below the rate of inflation.
Raines said the fee changes were presented to student representatives, who received them "pretty well ... much to my surprise."
"Having their input is critical," college President Bradley Ebersole said.
The drop, re-registration and some other fees also increased, while the graduation fee dropped from $40 to $10.