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Tuition fees up, budget tight

Students attending Mineral Area College will be paying more to attend classes as the school continues to face lower enrollment numbers and a tight budget.

The two-year community college has seen a decrease in enrollment as the economy has improved and unemployment numbers have declined.

According to MAC President Dr. Steve Kurtz, in a slow economy, the underemployed and unemployed are more likely to attend community college classes to prepare for a different job or new career. Conversely, in a growing economy, people prefer to enter the paid workforce rather than spend their money to attend school.

At the board of trustees meeting held Thursday, Dean of Students Jean Merrill-Doss presented the 2018 summer and fall enrollment reports.

“For summer we have a census next Monday, June 18, but we are currently at 926 students enrolled in 4,800 credit hours — so we’re up about 32 students and about 238 credit hours,” she said. “We were able to award about 740 Pell Grants for summer and only about 352 were utilized.”

Merill-Doss expressed surprise that relatively few students took advantage of the grants.

“As far as fall enrollment, we are currently at 1,424 students enrolled in about 1,6800 credit hours,” she said. “We continue to stay down between 350 to 375 in headcount and about 4,000 credit hours. We are currently working on contacting about 220 students that haven’t enrolled yet for fall. I think we’re pretty much down to the bottom of that list and making phone calls and working with them to get them back in for what variety of reasons they haven’t enrolled yet.

“We’re processing applications daily and we have our next C.A.R.D.S. program a week from tomorrow. We currently have 92 enrolled. I think that once this next batch of applicants gets pushed through, that probably will fill. So, we continue to put kids in the pipeline for the C.A.R.D.S. orientation programs. We’re looking under every rock we possibly can.”

Later in the meeting, Dr. Kurtz covered the subject of higher student costs for fiscal year 2019.

“A few months ago, we asked the board — at least in a preliminary move — to approve a tuition increase of $5 per credit hour,” he said. “We would like to finalize that today in a restructured format — a $1 increase in tuition and $4 designated for technology and information security — that still remains within the $5 increase we originally requested.”

After receiving a unanimous vote by the trustees in favor of the recommendation, Kurtz moved to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2019.

“Overall, the budget is $35,491,401,” he said. “The expenses are the same, so we’re presenting a balanced budget. We’re projecting tuition to decline and we’re projecting a 10 percent decline in enrollment. I hope we do better than that. The more students we have, the better off our budget will be. State allocation is projected to increase slightly — about $65,000 in this fiscal year.

“On the expense side, it’s almost the same, and unfortunately wages and salaries will remain consistent with where we are now — and that’s with regret. Maintenance and repairs are projected to be at $200,000 for the sixth year in a row. For the seventh year in a row, there is not going to be an increase in the retirement system contribution rate. Included in the budget is approximately $25,000 in contingency, just in case something happens.

“I wanted to thank everybody because right now the projection of the current year — if everything goes well — we should have a balanced budget. When we started out the year the deficit was large, so we want to thank everybody for their contributions and there’s a lot of sacrifice in getting the budget balanced. Thanks, everybody, for their efforts and dedication.”

The trustees voted unanimously for the budget recommendation.

“On the expense side, it’s almost the same, and unfortunately wages and salaries will remain consistent with where we are now, and that’s with regret.” — Dr. Steve Kurtz, MAC president

Mineral Area College President Dr. Steve Kurtz goes over the proposed 2019 fiscal year budget with the school's board of trustees. Due to a drop in tuition and state funding, the budget remains tight, but balanced. Kurtz thanked everyone who helped him formulate the new budget, describing the task as

Mineral Area College President Dr. Steve Kurtz goes over the proposed 2019 fiscal year budget with the school’s board of trustees. Due to a drop in tuition and state funding, the budget remains tight, but balanced. Kurtz thanked everyone who helped him formulate the new budget, describing the task as “difficult.”

The Mineral Area Board of Trustees vote unanimously at its Thursday meeting to raise the cost of credit hours for students and also voted to approve a tight budget for fiscal year 2019.

The Mineral Area Board of Trustees vote unanimously at its Thursday meeting to raise the cost of credit hours for students and also voted to approve a tight budget for fiscal year 2019.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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