Tuition could rise at Riverland
By Kurt Nesbitt
The Post-Bulletin, Austin MN
Students in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, including Riverland Community College, would see their tuition and fees go up hundreds of dollars next fall under the proposed 2011 budget.
MnSCU said Monday the average annual tuition and fees would increase by $210 for undergraduates in the system's colleges and $301 in the universities.
That's about a 4.5 percent increase for college students to $4,907 and about a 4.8 percent increase to $6,596 for university students.
Under the proposal, yearly tuition at Riverland Community College will increase by $215 from 2010 to 2011, pushing the cost of a year at Riverland up to $4,491. With higher fees added, the proposal would increase the cost of a year at the two-year college to $5,063.
Tuition and fee increases would be higher at the state universities within the MnSCU system. A $301 tuition and fee increase would happen at the six state university campuses if the plan becomes a reality.
The MnSCU board of trustees were scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal today in St. Paul. It will vote on the proposal May 19.
"It's basically what we were anticipating all along," said Beth Fondell, Riverland's vice president for finance and facilities. "We knew the board would be capping tuition increases at 5 percent. Riverland is near that average. It's right where we thought it would be."
Fondell said she expects the board of trustees to approve the increases since MnSCU already has its directive.
The presidents of MnSCU's 32 colleges and universities are also working on reducing expenses, eliminating administrative support, increasing class sizes and limiting courses as well as restructuring programs. Riverland underwent extensive budget cuts a year ago, laying off eight people and making a more concerted effort to control administrative travel expenses, as the result of last winter's budget unallotment, said Fondell. She said the college is expecting another unallotment on July 1.
"It looks worse beyond that," she said.
The college is going to take another look at administrative expenses as well as restructuring and retirements and may leave some positions open or restructure them into part-time jobs, depending on how the scenario unfolds, said Fondell.
Fondell said Riverland officials will be looking at how deep the July 1 unallotment goes and look at the upcoming state budget forecast. Until then, administrators will be making scenarios and planning around them until they know exactly how much money they are going to loose.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.