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Co-Lin Board raises tuition, other fees

Copiah-Lincoln Community College officials, looking down thebarrel of major funding cuts, voted Thursday to approve some basictuition increases that they say will not make up for thedifference, but will help offset it.

“This is an issue that 14 out of the state’s 15 community collegesare dealing with,” said Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles. “It’s anecessity. We don’t want to, but in order to keep bringing theservice and instructors our students deserve, we need to dothis.”

Itawamba Community College receives enough support from thecounties in its district that officials there are not faced withthe problem of potentially raising tuition, officials said, but allthe other community colleges in the state are mulling the decisioncurrently.

The increases, suggested by the budget committee at their meetingheld April 26, include raising full-time tuition from $850 to $975per semester. There is also an increase in the technology fee, from$50 to $75, and an increased dormitory fee from $575 to $675 persemester in every dormitory except Ellzey Hall.

“We already have some of the lowest fees in the state,” Nettlessaid.

In addition, there will be a $300 program fee for the AssociateDegree Nursing program, and a $50 lab fee for some of thehigher-cost career and technical programs.

“Some of these programs are expensive to operate but the revenue isvery low,” Nettles said. “This will in no way make up thedifference in the expense of the programs, but it will help offsetit.”

But financial aid could potentially cover a lot of the additionalfees, Nettles said.

“Right now a full-time student with a full Pell Grant gets $5,350,and next year it goes up $200,” he said. “In addition theeligibility will be broadened, and 70 percent of our students aregetting some amount of Pell Grant now. I don’t think this will be aterribly significant impact because of Pell Grants.”

In addition, Dr. Steven Ammann asked the board in his budget andfinance report to request a 10 percent increase in funding fromcounty boards of supervisors.

Currently the state only allows each county to allot three mils tooperational funds and three mils to capital improvements each year.Simpson County gives the full three mils on both sides, hesaid.

Lincoln County currently gives $531,000 to the school’s operationalfunds and $640,000 to the capital improvements.

“Over a million dollars is coming in to Co-Lin from Lincoln County,but other counties don’t have as large a tax base,” Nettles said.”But we do have counties that need to think about giving a littlemore.”

Dr. Eugene Bates pointed out that it is not uncommon to ask countyboards for a 10 percent increase. Nettles said that’s the numberused by the college, though it’s rare that a county can actuallymake that increase in a year.

The board also discussed the five-year capital improvement plan forthe college district, which prioritizes and plans expenses to gointo buildings and facilities on Co-Lin campuses through early2016.

The plan prioritizes a new men’s dormitory at the Wesson campus asthe greatest need of the college, with the construction of a careertechnical building at the Simpson center as another topconsideration. A new women’s dorm is on the list as well, alongwith eventual street renovations.

Parking, basic repairs and the demolition of Ellzey Hall are alsoon the list for the next five years.