Three Rivers College board talks about tuition increase

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The board of trustees for Three Rivers College will vote in March on a possible 6.9 percent tuition increase for in-district students.

Out-of-state students would also see an approximately 6.9 percent per credit hour bump under the proposal, while out-of-district costs would rise by 4.3 percent and common fees by almost 18 percent.

The matter will come before the board in a special teleconference session to be held at noon March 5. It was discussed Friday during trustees' monthly meeting.

This proposal would best help Three Rivers meet budget challenges of $716,000 for the next fiscal year, president Dr. Devin Stephenson said. This includes state funding cuts and expected increases in costs such as utilities and employee health insurance.

The proposed new tuition would generate almost $654,000 in additional revenue.

Trustee Darren Garrison argued against the step, saying he feels the college offers better classes, at less expense than anyone in the state. Three Rivers can continue to do that at the current tuition and fees, he said. Garrison added he understood this might mean the funding balance, at almost $4.8 million this month, would go down a little.

"I think we can hold steady for a year and it won't kill us," he said. "We have great financial information at every meeting."

Chief financial officer Charlotte Eubank told trustees earlier in the meeting Three Rivers has already collected 107 percent of tuition and fees, which is almost $700,000 above the budgeted amount for this fiscal year. The financial report additionally shows income from other operating income, including fines and transcript fees, is at 122 percent, which is about $54,000 higher than the budgeted amount.

Eubank also explained Three Rivers is currently behind the per credit hour tuition escalation plan put in place by a former board.

The plan would have set per credit hour tuition by the last fiscal year at $73 for in-district, $117 for out-of-district and $146 for out-of-state.

Current tuition is $72 for in-district, $117 for out-of-district and $144 for out-of-state. Common fees are $17 at this time.

Under the proposed increase, costs would be $77 for in-district, $122 for out-of-district and $154 for out-of-state. Common fees would be $20.

Trustees last approved a tuition increase in February 2011, with a $5 per credit hour bump for in-district students and $10 for both out-of-district and out-of-state.

Trustee and Vice Chairman Randy Winston suggested the affect of increases would be lessened because of the number of students who receive financial help through the state A+ program, which provides two years' tuition and fees to qualifying students, and the federal Pell Grant program, which offers funds for tuition and living expenses. The Pell Grant program is based on need and money does not have to be repaid.

About 80 percent of Three Rivers' students receive financial aid. Approximately 48 percent receive the maximum Pell Grant payment.

Eubank said for those who receive the maximum Pell Grant, about $1,600 would be left after new tuition costs for in-district students. This would be approximately $1,000 for out-of-district and $700 for out-of-state students. A chart presented to trustees showed this was higher than the 2008-2009 school year ($1,400, $920 and $596 respectively), but the lowest of the years since. The college is limited in the ways it can generate revenue to make up for budget shortfalls, Winston said.

The FY13 budget will is expected to be affected by increases in health insurance premiums, a loss of 7.2 percent of state funding, a 10 percent increase in utilities and an increase in salaries.

Six of the other 11 community colleges is Missouri expect tuition increases of $5 or more per credit hour for FY13, according to information presented at the meeting. The remaining schools, with the exception of Morberly, which will likely remain the same, predict increases of between $2 and $4.

Pertinent address:

2080 Three Rivers Blvd., Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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