Determining Tuition Increases in an Era of Declining Public Appropriations

Topics: Community College, Tuition and Fees, Revenue Enhancement, Administration and Finance

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Research Questions

  • What percentage of institutions’ total budgets do tuition and fees comprise?
  • How do administrators and governing boards determine appropriate tuition and fee increases as public appropriations decline? 
  • In the context of declining public appropriations, how do administrators and governing boards determine how tuition and fee adjustments will affect instructional quality? 
  • If cuts in public appropriations lower instructional quality, how is quality restored using tuition and fees?  

Summary

Public appropriations for higher education continue to decline across the country.  Community colleges have faced especially significant revenue reductions in recent years, and many institutions now rely primarily on tuition and fee revenue to fund their operations.  This report highlights strategies at three institutions for determining appropriate tuition increases in this era of declining public appropriations.  Relations between governing boards and administrators comprise a major focus of this research; additionally, the report includes insights regarding the effects of the college completion agenda on tuition and fees.  The research concludes with a discussion of how administrators publicize the comparative affordability of a community college education even as the cost continues to rise.