Student tuition funds student activities fees, scholarships
By Ben Markley
For many students, tuition is a defining factor in choosing a college, but few know where those tuition dollars actually end up going.
Student Cameron Pratte was attracted to the college initially because of its inexpensive tuition.
“I think tuition is really reasonable and affordable, a lot more than it is at other schools,” he said. “But I really don’t know where the money goes.”
According to Don Perkins, executive director of Budget and Auxiliary Services, when a Johnson County resident pays $81 for a credit hour, this is where the money goes:
• $63 goes into the general fund, which is put toward the college budget.
• $8 is used to make payments on revenue bonds for building projects, particularly roads and parking, such as the Galileo Parking Garage.
• $6 goes toward supporting student activities, some of which is used for scholarship funds.
• $3 goes toward infrastructure, such as information technology and classroom materials.
• $1 goes toward the “green fee” to fund sustainability.
Joe Sopcich, executive vice president of Administrative Services, said students can expect to reap what they sow in tuition.
“What those students pay for go to those areas that benefit the students,” he said.
Over the past several years, tuition at the college has risen steadily. In March 2011, the Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase that raised in-state cost-per-credit-hour by $6 and out-of-state cost-per-credit-hour by $16.
Sopcich said tuition has gone up as a result of placing more responsibility on students for higher education.
“Historically, it was society’s role to provide more for the funding of higher education,” he said. “Today that has shifted. There’s less and less taxes and a desire not to increase taxes, and that’s the choice we’ve made as a society. Therefore, if you want to go to school, you’ll have to pay for it.”
Perkins explained that college revenues come from three sources: local property tax, state aid and tuition. Of the three, tuition is the only one the college can control.
“Other revenues are uncertain,” he said. “We don’t have any control over assessed valuation. The state aid, we have no control over.”
The college also has influence over the mill levy, the local property tax rate, but Perkins said the college has not exercised that influence.
“We do have control over mill levy, but the current board is not wanting to raise that,” Perkins said. “That affects all taxpayers in the county.”
In light of rising costs, Perkins said the college has raised tuition to increase revenues but works to keep student financial burdens light.
“We just try to keep the tuition portion at a reasonable percentage of [total revenues],” he said.
Pratte said he wasn’t too concerned with where the money went.
“As long as they’re not housing drug traffickers or promoting slavery, I don’t care too much,” Pratte said.
Contact Ben Markley, staff reporter, at email@example.com.