EDISON, NJ–Middlesex County College students will pay a little more for their classes next semester, after the college's Board of Trustees approved a modest increase in tuition at their February 25 meeting.
Tuition will go up $2 per credit to $106 for in-county students, and $4 per credit to $212 for out-of-county students. MCC does not charge an out-of-state rate.
Student fees of $34.50 for in-county students are charged as a separate dollar amount per credit, and have not risen in the past five years. The fee amount is double for out-of-county students.
The increase represents a 1.92% rise in tuition over the last academic year.
Including the unchanged student fees, the actual price per credit increase is 1.44%. MCC is currently tied for the third lowest tuition in the state and remains the lowest in the northern part of the state.
The MCC tuition increase takes effect for the Summer I term, which begins May 18.
Middlesex’s tuition increase is much softer than some other county colleges around the state.
By contrast, Brookdale Community College in Monmouth County recently voted to raise tuition $4 per credit for in-county students. The increases are double for out-of-county students and even higher for out-of-state students.
Unlike MCC, Brookdale charges fees at 24% of tuition, so its students will pay an additional $4.96 per credit. Including the fees, this represents an actual increase of 3.37%
Sussex County College approved a 9.9% tuition increase at its meeting February 24, according to a report on NJ.com. A student fee increase will raise the total per credit cost to $200 for in-county students.
Tom Peterson, spokesman for MCC, confirmed February 27 that there has not been nor will there be any change in student services available at the college.
Brookdale – which has a similar enrollment and demographic profile as MCC – recently voted to lay-off 52 employees, in addition to the tuition hike. The school also eliminated services including a bus route from their main campus and the college nurse's office.
By contrast, MCC recently approved new certificate programs in American Sign Language and Cyber Security.
The trustees also approved the college's $78.4 million fiscal year 2016 budget, which begins July 1. The budget is $971,000 less than last year’s budget, a spending decrease of 1.22%
A funding loss of $100,000 was made up for by an increase in appropriations from the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Peterson said that because of demographic changes, the college is expecting a slight decline in enrollment next year, although exact projections were not available as of press time.
County colleges have generally been plagued by declining enrollment, both as a result of the down economy and the overall lower enrollment in high schools in recent years.
Several four-year schools in New Jersey have reported record enrollment this year, as students are bypassing the more affordable county colleges and taking advantage of private and alternative student loan programs.
Student loan debt has surpassed home mortgage and credit card debt in total dollar amount, making it the largest category of debt in the country.
Federal Pell Grants have not nearly kept pace with the overall rise in tuition and the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority awards county college students significantly less tuition assistance then students at four-year schools.