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SMC increases tuition rates for 2020-2021 school year

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees adopted an increase in the tuition and fee schedule for the 2020-2021 fiscal year at its regular meeting Feb. 24 on the Dowagiac campus, 58900 Cherry Grove Road.

The decision will up general tuition costs 1.8 percent, or $2.25 per contact hour, for in-district students and 2 percent, $3.25, for in-state. A $0.75 registration fee and $1 technology fee adjustments were also approved.

The changes take effect this fall.

“We always strive to keep costs low, but a minor tuition increase is needed for operational expenses,” said board chairman Thomas F. Jerdon. “Even with state funding essentially flat again this year, our wages must remain competitive to recruit and to retain talented faculty and staff, including a higher percentage of fulltime faculty than our peer institutions, which we believe leads to better student success.”

After listening to kindergarten to 12th-grade educational partners’ budget concerns over the past few months, the board passed a new dual-enrollment tuition rate.  This will allow even more high school students throughout southwest Michigan to expand their course options, take classes on SMC’s modern campuses and earn transferable credits to further reduce the overall cost of college, board members said.

“We believe that exposure to college classes through dual-enrollment opportunities is transformational for many students in our region,” said President Joseph Odenwald.

Michigan community colleges charged an average of $5,223 annual tuition in 2018 and 2019. That’s the lowest tuition in the midwest and 31st lowest in the nation, according to Community College Review.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest education plan calls for 2.5-percent funding increases for universities and community colleges contingent on those schools holding tuition increases below 4.25 percent.

Also at the Monday meeting, trustees made the following actions:

• Accepted the resignation of trustee Heidi Grabemeyer-Layman, who is moving out of SMC’s taxpaying district. She served for five years.

• Opened bids to invest in chemistry lab upgrades on the Niles campus meant to boost the college’s capacity for science courses to meet increasing demand. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

In other business, the board continued its year-long review of policies and accepted a monetary gift to the college.

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