The East Central Community College Board of Trustees last week approved the college’s 2018-19 budget plan, which includes a 3 percent per semester tuition increase for full-time students for the upcoming academic year. The 2018-19 budget plan approved at the board’s May meeting on the Decatur campus goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

Tuition for full-time students at ECCC for the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters will increase $40 per semester, from $1,290 to $1,330, or 3.1 percent. There will also be a $5 per credit hour increase per semester for part-time students, from $115 to $120. Even with the approved increase in tuition, it is anticipated that ECCC students will continue to benefit from the lowest tuition in the state of Mississippi based on preliminary reports from other community and junior colleges in the state.

There will be no increase in room and board fees, and several course fees are being reduced in the 2018-2019 budget. In addition, the college will continue the implementation of a tiered-tuition rate Dual Credit Program begun in 2017-2018 with no increases.

“Although state appropriations were level for 2018-2019, we are still addressing the effects of the reduction of $1.04 million in state appropriations this current fiscal year which ends June 30, 2018,” said Dr. Billy Stewart, president of ECCC. “Our budget plan this current fiscal year included several expenditure reductions and revenue increases to offset this decrease in state appropriations and some of those will continue in 2018-2019.”

Among the expenditure reductions that went into place July 1, 2017, were a hiring freeze, freezing employee salaries at current levels, a 20 percent reduction over the previous fiscal year in several non-salary and non-travel expense line items in most departmental budgets, elimination in most budgets of equipment line items, a 25 percent across-the-board reduction in in-state travel line items, and the elimination of out-of-state travel budget line items in most cases.

Stewart said that non-salary, non-travel, in-state and out-of-state travel expense line items in most departmental budgets for 2018-19 were budgeted at 2017-18 levels. The college will, however, suspend the adherence to essential travel only for 2018-19. In addition, the college will award employee salary increases this year.

Stewart stated, “The cost-reduction strategies implemented in the 2017-2018 budget as well as the enrollment increases in the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018 at East Central were extremely helpful in planning for the FY2019 budget. The combination of those strategies and enrollment increases allowed the college to implement a relatively small increase in tuition for the upcoming year.”

Stewart added that depending upon the availability of funding, the college is fortunate to have the Slagle In-District Tuition Scholarship that may be available to students. This scholarship serves as a “gap filler” and awards several thousand dollars annually to ECCC students who are in need of funds to cover tuition expenses. Students interested in the Slagle In-District Tuition Scholarship must reside in the college’s five-county district and complete all the necessary requirements to be considered.

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