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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/JASON IVESTER Students walk across campus on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

BENTONVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas Community College officials are $181,500 short of being able to fund a proposed $42 million budget, Gulizar Baggson, budget director, recently told the Board of Trustees.

Trustees discussed the possibility of raising tuition for out-of-state students and why they couldn't raise it for in-state students during a budget discussion with college administrators after the Land Use Committee meeting March 2.

Tuition rates

Tuition costs per student semester credit hour are $75 for in-district students, $122.50 for out-of-district students and $125 for out-of-state students.

Source: NWACC

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"This is a chance for us to go over where we are at this point in time and to answer questions and get feedback," Evelyn Jorgenson, college president, told trustees.

Discussions will continue before the proposed budget goes to the board in early May. The 2019 fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, 2019.

The 2018 budget is $41.9 million.

Tuition revenue, which is about $21.5 million or 51 percent of the revenue, is budgeted to remain flat, Baggson said.

The proposed budget includes a $249,000 increase from property millage and a $60,000 increase from the Secondary Career Center, where the college and Northwest Technical Institute partner to provide high school students career and technical programs.

The draft includes $490,500 in new expenses, including $314,100 for employee raises.

College administrators said it would have been a good year to raise tuition, especially since this will be the seventh year without an increase.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked higher education institutions not to raise tuition and asked community colleges not to raise tuition past the consumer price index, which is about 1.8 percent, Jorgenson said.

"In theory, we could still raise our tuition," she said. "But politically, it will not fly very well."

Jorgenson explained that many of the state's community colleges are under a university system. For an independent community college, like NWACC, to raise tuition when others can't would give legislators a reason to push for them to become part of a university system. Legislators would likely not have an issue with an out-of-state tuition increase, she said.

The college reduced out-of-state tuition by $50 per student semester credit hour in 2016 to increase Hispanic student enrollment. Instead, there's been a decrease of Hispanic students since Donald Trump was elected president and immigration policies have been heavily debated, Jorgenson said, adding that there was not enough additional enrollment to offset the money lost by reducing the tuition.

Trustee Todd Schwartz suggested increasing out-of-state tuition.

NW News on 03/08/2018

Print Headline: NWACC officials mull budget

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