JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson College is raising its tuition rates by 4.5 percent, saying it’s due to rising inflation.
The board of trustees approved raising in-district tuition to $176 per credit hour, an $8 increase. Out-of-district students will see tuition rise $9 per credit hour to $199.
“Raising tuition is a very difficult decision by our board in any particular year,” Jackson College President Daniel Phelan said. “Jackson College is not immune to the vagaries of the economy that everyone else is expecting. We are seeing significant increases in commodities and construction materials and supplies. We want to be able to keep tuition as low as we can.”
The board lowered out-of-state students’ tuition to $264 per credit hour, a $63 decrease.
According to Phelan, another reason for raising tuition has to do with the amount of money coming from property taxes.
“Ideally, you want this to be a third, a third and a third. A third from the state, a third of students and the third from local tax holders, and we’ve gotten out of balance over time,” Phelan said. “I think in part because we have the lowest tax rate, and we still have to have tax revenues to help us deal with the various challenges.”
They are also operating on their original charter millage of 1.33 mills, which was created in 1965. It now sits at 1.13 mills due to the Headlee Amendment, which limits tax increases collected to the rate of inflation. It’s possible to override the limits imposed by the amendment by asking the public to vote on it.
“The net effect of all of this is that we are about $1 million short a year in what we would have obtained had we gotten the full millage rate without the Headlee effect,” Phelan said.
Community colleges have seen enrollment drop throughout the state of Michigan.
Over the past five years, enrollment in community colleges has dropped from almost 208,000 in the fall of 2016 to close to 160,000 in the fall of 2020 during the height of the pandemic, according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Education.
Jackson College has seen its numbers drop during that time span from 5,701 to 4,723. As of fall 2021, their enrollment was up slightly to 4,797. Phelan believes based on their budget prediction model that they will be at pre-pandemic levels by June 2023.
“With the exception of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and I believe Michigan Tech, every higher education institution, public and private has lost enrollment. Jackson College is no exception,” Phelan said. “I will tell you though that since we’ve kind of come on the backside of this pandemic that we’re still in, we have seen enrollment upticks. While we’re still below pre-pandemic levels, we are increasing.”
Phelan said that there are savings to be had for students including lowering the cost of online classes from $60 to $40 per credit hour and a partnership with an e-textbook provider that lowers the cost of digital textbooks to $50 for a single class.
“They’re actually going to be paying less by virtue of what they’re used to paying for books and what they’re used to paying for online courses,” he said. “The net effect is actually negative. They’ll be paying less to come to Jackson College than they were last year and that is upon us to get that message out.”
The new tuition rates start this fall. Classes for the fall semester begin Aug. 29.
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