BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
Effective the summer of 2016, students at the County College of Morris will be spending more per credit to attend class thanks to an increase approved by Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
The cost of a three-credit course for students residing in Morris County will rise $6 for the credits and an extra $2 for the course, totaling a rise of $8.
The hike is being attributed to cost of living increases.
The hike occurred because neither the state of New Jersey nor Morris County could afford to increase its support to the college, according to Karen VanDerhoof, CCM Vice President of Business and Finance.
“I would anticipate as prices go up, utility prices go up, cost of living goes up, salary, and wages go up a little bit; then we’ll have to do a modest tuition increase down the road as well,” VanDerhoof said. “We don’t see the state or the county in the near future increasing their support, so I think it’s probably going to be a trend that we try to keep the tuition and fee increases as modest as possible.”
While CCM has lost money because of a decline in student enrollment, it has not received enough funding from the state of New Jersey and Morris County to pay for all of its expenses for the 2016-17 school year. For this school year, the state, which funds the college based on total credit hour enrollment, and the county both granted the college the same amount of money as it did last year, contributing respectively $6.9 million and $11 million. It needed to gain approximately $4.2 million to pay for expenses, including faculty salaries, utilities, and technology costs, so CCM’s president’s cabinet fired 22 people to save approximately $1.9 million. To cover the rest of the money needed, the County College of Morris Board of Trustees decided on the tuition and fee change, according to VanDerhoof.
Annually, CCM’s Board of Trustees meets and tries to keep the college’s tuition and fees as low as they can, according to Joseph Ricca, the board’s chair.
“We’ve worked really, really hard the last several years – at least I can certainly speak for my time – to keep tuition and fees as low as possible,” Ricca said. “I think when you look at the county colleges across the state of New Jersey, you come to a quick realization that the County College of Morris is very, very competitive comparatively to the other institutions, but nonetheless, you try and keep the costs down.”
Ricca said that he did not want to sacrifice CCM’s programs to keep the costs of attendance down.
“We recognize the burden, but at the same time, we also know that students come to CCM because of the opportunity, because of the environment and the services that are offered,” Ricca said. “When everything goes away, that reduces the educational program, and it also reduces the capacity of the college to be able to support students.”
One CCM student had different views.
“To me, county college is supposed to be the less expensive option, and I think that might go away if this continues, if they continue to raise the prices,” said Rachel Baker, hospitality management major. “The quality might go down as well if they continue to get rid of professors and staff in order to keep the fill this gap … I would say if there are any unnecessary expenses, try to cut those. We don’t need to update technology every year, things like that.”
CCM’s Division of Student Development and Enrollment, which handles student concerns, has not heard any comments regarding the price hike, according to CCM’s Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management Bette Simmons.
“A lot of times … students are not that forward thinking, so even though we’ve put the information out there now that the tuition is going up for the summer terms, you all are still thinking about the spring,” Simmons said. “Students in general don’t tend to do that level of investigation into their bill. They see a total number; they pay it, or they get financial aid to cover it. And they move on.”
One CCM student found the hike reasonable.
“For nursing, I think the lab they need a lot,” said Claudette Munyacinza, a nursing major. “I know I’m the one paying, but they need a lot of material for the department. But it makes sense that the tuition goes up.”
Another student at CCM found disappointment in the price hike.
“As a college student, most of us are not really financially stable at this point in life, so I think I disapprove of it,” said Abdul Sheik, a computer science major. “I don’t think the prices should be rising, and if they are gonna rise, I think things like wages and things like that should rise with the economy, not just the price of schooling.”
However, Shiek did not blame CCM for the change.
“I think they are bound by a lot of things: the federal government, a lot of guidelines and criteria and all that, they need to somehow meet the criteria of the status quo,” Shiek said. “The federal government plays a huge role in education in the whole country, so with the prices going up, I think the federal government definitely has a significant role in this.”
Beginning with the summer 2016 semester, the cost per credit to attend CCM will total $150 for in county residents.