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Technology to hike fees at HJC

April 22, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Beginning this September, the average credit student at Hagerstown Junior College will be paying about $17 more per semester due to a new fee earmarked for technology.

The HJC Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to impose a $2 per credit hour technology fee on all credit students starting in the fall semester.

The school has about 1,000 full-time and 2,000 part-time students enrolled in credit programs.

The money will go into a fund for updating and maintaining computer equipment, said John Taube, reference and electronic resources librarian at HJC.

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Non-credit students will contribute to the fund through their computer course lab fees, Taube said.

The $2 fee, combined with the lab fees, would put a little more than $100,000 into the fund over a year's time, he said.

The campus has a dozen student computer labs with about 300 computers, he said. The goal is to keep them at the same technology level to maximize student use.

Taube originally proposed a $4 fee, based on the technology fee committee's calculation that it would cost $207,000 a year to keep all student computer labs up to date.

The bulk of that - $165,000 - would have bought 75 new computers each year, he said.

The rest of the money would have gone to buy computer supplies and to keep printers and software up to date, Taube said.

The committee proposed the separate fee, rather than tacking the cost on to tuition, because it makes it easier to keep tabs on the revenue and it has worked well at other colleges, he said.

While board members agreed a technology fee is needed, most said they weren't willing to start it at $4 per credit hour.

Board member Florence M. Murdock said she agreed a fee is "very, very necessary," but said she also agreed $4 was too high.

She proposed starting with $2 on a trial basis.

Board member Carolyn W. Brooks said the board needed to be careful not to make the fee too steep.

"We want to remain attractive to the students," Brooks said.

The final vote was unanimous.

The lower fee will require adjustments to the committee's rotation plan for computer purchases, Taube said.

That plan may have been a little too ambitious anyway, said board member William J. Reuter, who thinks the rotation schedule might be stretched a year or two with the same desired results.

A technology fee - common at community colleges around the state - is a necessary step to keep the school's computer equipment usable and make it even more accessible to students, Reuter said.

Although it would technically go into effect July 1, the fee won't be felt by students until September, said Board Chairman Merle S. Elliott.

The amount of the fee will be re-examined every semester, Elliott said.

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