McHenry County College Board of Trustees to vote on keeping in-district tuition flat

Out-of-district, out-of-state students could see tuition, fees decrease to better reflect cost of instruction

McHenry County College’s Board of Trustees is set to vote on keeping in-district students’ tuition flat for the 2021-22 budget year, while lowering it for out-of-district students starting in summer 2021.

This means in-district students would continue to pay $128 per credit hour, while out-of-district residents who live in Illinois would pay $369.72 per credit hour, making for a decrease of a little more than $8 than the current rate of $378.16.

If approved, students living out of state would also pay less, with $464.38 per credit hour effective summer 2021 compared to 2020′s $470.13.

The Board of Trustees is set to meet virtually at 6 p.m. Thursday to vote on these recommendations.

The reductions for out-of-district and out-of-state residents are done to ensure tuition and fees “more currently reflect the actual cost of instruction,” McHenry County College President Clinton Gabbard said in a memo to trustees. Rates for out-of-district and out-of-state residents are based on a per capita cost calculation, according to the board packet.

When deciding in-district tuition, the college also takes into account the financial impact the cost of attendance has on students, Gabbard said. Other variables include state Monetary Award Program grant funding, foundation grants, scholarships, and the college’s textbook savings initiative.

“This year, our community continues to face significant financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gabbard said. “After considering this new factor, along with all other variables, the College believes the correct action to take is keeping tuition flat for (fiscal year) 2022.”

McHenry County College has the 38th lowest combined tuition and fees of the state’s 39 community colleges this budget year, according to Gabbard’s memo. If the board approves keeping tuition and fees flat, the college is expected to remain as the 38th lowest in the state.

The Crystal Lake-based community college was also bucking the trend in enrollment, experiencing an increase of 2.5% in enrollment for its spring 2021 semester, the college said in a news release.

Preliminary numbers indicate that McHenry County College was the only community college in the state to experience this growth in headcount, according to the release.

This follows an enrollment increase of 4.5% in the fall 2020 semester.

“The pandemic forced us to reexamine comfortable procedures and think of new ways to help students,” Gabbard said in a statement. “After making the initial switch to online offerings in the spring of 2020, we immediately started evaluating what was working, where we could make improvements, and what we wanted to do for our students in the future.”

McHenry County College offered online, in-person or a blend of both options during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semester. Faculty and staff were also brought in last spring as “student navigators,” who sat in on classes and connected students to available resources.

Services, including mental health workshops, tutoring, student activities, and advising, transitioned online as well.

“We’ll keep paying attention, making adjustments, and removing roadblocks,” Gabbard said. “We’re incredibly proud of our students as they continue to overcome the struggles of attending classes during the pandemic. And we’re truly honored that we’ve been able to continue serving them.”

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.