COD Board of Trustees Approves Spring 2015 Tuition Decrease

By Robyn Johnson

The College of DuPage Board of Trustees approved a proposal at its Aug. 21 regular meeting to reduce tuition by $4 per credit hour for the spring 2015 term.

Based on a proposal submitted to the Board by President Robert L. Breuder last month, the approved reduction will lower tuition from $144 to $140 per credit hour this spring.

“Because we have our fiscal house in order and maintain a strong financial position, this is something we are able to do for our students,” said Dr. Breuder, who noted that this is the first time in the College’s history that tuition has been reduced. “Barring a significant change in our financial situation, I plan to recommend in the spring that we maintain this rate for the 2015-2016 academic year.”

This tuition reduction will result in lost revenue of approximately $1.27 million for the remainder of the 2015 fiscal year. However, as of June 30, 2013, the College’s operating fund balance was listed at $143 million or 95 percent of the College’s total operating expenses. Preliminary and unaudited numbers for FY 2014 indicate that this percentage will increase to more than 100 percent of total operating expenses, which is a number that will allow COD to meet unforeseen challenges or seize unexpected opportunities.

“Sound fiscal management and operating this institution like a business these past five years has made this decrease in tuition possible,” Dr. Breuder said. “We are extremely pleased with our fiscal performance this past year, despite a challenging economy and a continued deficit in state disbursements.”

Under the original intent of Illinois community college legislation, the state should have provided College of DuPage approximately $66 million (or 33 percent of operating expenses) in appropriations for FY 2014. The College expects to receive only $13.1 million, or just 7.2 percent of its total FY 2015 operating budget revenues. In addition, unfunded state mandates like veterans tuition reimbursements cost the College nearly $1 million this past year.

The College is currently completing a $550 million transformation of its physical campus, made possible largely by two capital referenda approved by District 502 taxpayers in 2002 and 2010. The state has provided only $2.6 million to the College for physical facilities since 2009. The College’s strong financial position would permit construction of a $30 million Teaching and Learning Center using a portion of its reserves. Construction of the center would decrease the reserve to 78.1 percent of total operating expenses.

“While I do not have a crystal ball regarding the College’s financial future, reducing tuition for this spring is a manageable risk I’m willing to recommend at this time,” Dr. Breuder said.