A 3.95 percent increase in tuition and fees for the 2018-19 academic year was approved Tuesday by the Southwestern Community College Board of Directors.
Tia Samo, SWCC chief financial officer, presented the proposed increase of $7 per credit hour. Total tuition and fees per credit hour starting next fall for Iowa residents will be $184 and $191 for out-of-state residents.
Samo said factors considered in the increase included attracting and retaining quality instructors, enabling students to benefit from the newest technology and changes in state support.
“People are our biggest asset, also our biggest expense,” Samo said. “We’re trying to recruit and retain good quality staff and faculty. In order to do that, our property tax funding and state funding are not able to cover all of the increases in the costs. Not only for our employment, but also increased cost for technology. As you know, we have been going through a lot of technology projects, improving our network infrastructure. We’re also looking at safety for students and personnel, including cyber security projects. All of these are increasing our expense in day-to-day operations of the college.”
Fred Shearer of Corning, board vice president, asked about fee increases from $235 to $635 for nursing RN students and a hike from $185 to $835 for nursing LPN students.
Bill Taylor, SWCC vice president of instruction, explained the use of a new online resource for the nursing program.
“We’re looking at a new teaching and learning resource from ATI that provides videos, online testing, a coach that will stay with the student until they pass boards,” Taylor said. “Twelve of the 15 (Iowa) community colleges have implemented this in their program. It provides a secure testing site. It’s really a variety of online resources. It is expensive, but we think it is valuable for us.”
Maureen Weaver, nursing instructor and department chair, said students will benefit when they take board exams.
“They will come on site in June and do an on-site live review for NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination),” Weaver said. “They follow that student until they take their boards. If they do not pass their boards, they stay with that student and re-tutor them until they pass.”
Board member Jerry Smith of Osceola asked if there are any Pell Grant increases to offset the higher student fees. A Pell Grant is a subsidy the U.S. federal government provides for students with financial need.
“There is one for the 18-19 school year, but not significant,” said Beth Kulow, SWCC dean of student services. “I think it’s approximately $72 to $74. But they can award summer Pell now. In nursing a supplemental Pell Grant can be awarded, if the student is enrolled in six credit hours or more. It rolls into the next academic year.”
In other board news:
• A public-private partnership agreement with electrical contractor Doug Brunell was approved. The educational services agreement allows SWCC electrical students to gain on-the-job experience in an upcoming local renovation project.
“It’s a small project at what used to be the old Franklin School building (500 S. Oak Street) in Creston,” Taylor said. “It’s a project that will allow our electrical students to do some on-the-job training. They will install some breaker boxes and run some wire. A church is doing some remodeling to that building. It will probably take the students and instructor a week to 10 days. It will be a great learning opportunity for the students. Doug will provide all of the materials and supplies.”
• The resignation of nursing instructor Brooke Owen was accepted, effective June 29.
Dr. Barb Crittenden, SWCC president, said Owen was on staff at the beginning of the college’s implementation of its health simulation lab.
“We will miss Brooke,” Crittenden said.
• An update on the Small Business Development Center was presented by regional director Brandi Shay. A report on that presentation will be published in a future edition of the News Advertiser.