Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees adopted the tuition and fee schedule for the 2020-2021 fiscal year at its regular meeting Feb. 24 on the Dowagiac campus.
General tuition increases $2.25 per contact hour (1.8 percent) for in-district students and $3.25 (2 percent) for in-state with 75-cent registration fee and $1 technology fee adjustments.
“We always strive to keep costs low, but a minor tuition increase is needed for operational expenses,” Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon said. “Even with state funding essentially flat again this year, our wages must remain competitive to recruit and to retain talented faculty and staff, including a higher percentage of fulltime faculty than our peer institutions, which we believe leads to better student success.”
After listening to its valued K-12 educational partners’ budget concerns over the past few months, the Board of Trustees responded by passing a new dual-enrollment tuition rate. This will allow even more high school students throughout southwest Michigan to expand their course options, take classes on SMC’s modern campuses and earn transferable credits to further reduce the overall cost of college.
“We believe that exposure to college classes through dual-enrollment opportunities is transformational for many students in our region,” President Dr. Joseph Odenwald said.
The board addresses tuition at this time of year to provide certainty to students who begin signing up for fall classes March 25.
Michigan community colleges charged an average of $5,223 annual tuition in 2018-19. That’s the lowest tuition in the Midwest and 31st lowest in the nation, according to Community College Review.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest education plan calls for 2.5-percent funding increases for universities and community colleges contingent on those schools holding tuition increases below 4.25 percent, which SMC is well below at just 1.8 percent.
Trustees accepted with regret the resignation after five years of Trustee Dr. Heidi Grabemeyer-Layman, whose family is moving out of SMC’s taxpaying district.
Trustees also opened bids to invest in chemistry lab upgrades on the Niles Campus that will boost the college’s capacity for science courses to meet increasing demand. Construction is expected to begin this summer.
In other business, the board continued its year-long review of policies and accepted with gratitude a monetary gift to the college.