HJC students riled by technology fee

April 24, 1997


Staff Writer

For Tammy McGowan, an additional $2 per credit hour seems a small price to pay for the educational benefit of up-to-date computer labs.

But fellow Hagerstown Junior College student Karen Guthrie thinks the fee - which HJC officials claim will cost the average student $17 per semester - is unreasonable.

"It's getting to the point where it's ridiculous, and nobody can afford to come," said Guthrie, 21, an administration of justice major.


The HJC Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted to impose a technology fee on all credit students starting this fall.

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

Between the $2 per credit hour fee and lab fees for credit and non-credit computer courses, school officials expect to raise a little over $100,000 in the next school year, all earmarked for maintaining and updating student computer labs.

Students already are looking at a $3 per hour tuition hike if the proposed 1997-98 budget is approved by the Board of Trustees, said HJC Comptroller Arthur Barnhart.

The increase - the 12th in as many years - will bring tuition up to $70 for Washington County residents, $96 for other Maryland residents and $123 for out-of-state residents.

Together, the new fee and tuition hike would mean $60 more a semester to a full-time student carrying the minimum 12-hour course load.

The technology fee is a necessary step in the college's commitment to keep the school's 12 student computer labs up to date, Barnhart said.

"We put $1.5 million into computerizing the entire campus," he said. "What we're trying to do is keep that investment in tact."

The school isn't breaking ground by imposing a technology fee, said Barnhart, who said the practice has become fairly common at colleges across the country.

Even with the tuition increase and technology fee, the school will remain a good buy for Washington County residents, who would pay significantly more to attend other colleges in the area, he said.

The $5 per-credit-hour increase will hurt a lot of struggling students, said Guthrie, a 1994 Boonsboro High graduate in her second year at HJC.

Many students already have to work full-time jobs because their parents can't afford to help them but make too much to qualify for financial aid, she said.

Considering the benefit, McGowan, 18, said she thinks most students will be willing to pay the technology fee.

"That's not bad if it's going to help us," said McGowan, a freshman majoring in psychology. "We're here to get an education."

The 1996 Smithsburg High graduate said she takes advantage of the school computers - especially the Internet access - every time she's on campus.

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