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College ups tuition rates, OKs budget

ALPENA — Alpena Community College students will see an increase in tuition when they start school in the fall.

The college Board of Trustees approved higher tuition rates for the fall semester. Rates are increasing from $133 to $137 for in-district students for each contact hour and from $210 to $217 for out-of-district students for each contact hour. The increase will offset a budgeted 3% decline in enrollment.

The board also approved the college’s 2019-20 general fund budget based on an expected approximately 2,300 students in the fall. Both revenues and expenditures were almost $14.8 million, so the budget is balanced. That would leave the college’s fund balance unchanged, at about $1.28 million.

ACC President Don MacMaster said the tuition raise is within the cost-of-living and less than neighboring community colleges.

“It’s a conservative estimate on what enrollment might be in the fall and what enrollment income might be,” MacMaster said. “We’re sensitive to how much people want to pay to go to school here, so the increase is modest and conservative.”

MacMaster said the college is trying to project what the state might give them when its budget year starts Oct. 1, but that’s unknown, right now. The college is balancing projected enrollment versus what the college might get from state appropriations.

“We’re estimating low, in terms of what we get from the state, so we’re not surprised on the downside,” he said.

Still, MacMaster said it’s good to project a balanaced budget.

“Starting the year with a balanced budget is, you know, we have to do that,” MacMaster said. “We’ve had three good years where we’ve managed our expenses well and we’ve had good revenue in our financial position compared to three years ago, it’s much better.”

Vice President of Administration and Finance Richard Sutherland said the budget proposed Wednesday was the same budget the board saw at its May meeting.

Sutherland said the college hasn’t received everything yet for property taxes, but it’s within what the college has budgeted.

“The balanced budget is allowing a couple hundred thousand dollars to be moved to maintenance replacement over and above the exact needs,” Sutherland said. “It’s in good shape.”

MacMaster said the budget is manageable and the college knows what its expenses are.

“What we need to do is be strong in enrollment and if we do that, we’re going to start the year in very good shape,” he said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.