Most colleges and universities are raising their tuition steadily by about 4 percent per year, which means students could have to pay several hundred dollars more at schools that have tuitions in the thousands of dollars.
For instance, for its undergraduate students, Frostburg State University, Hagerstown Campus, raised its annual in-state tuition and mandatory fees by $124; the University of Maryland, College Park, will have a $240 hike in total in-state cost for the 1999-2000 year; and the private Hood College will have a total cost increase this coming year of $900, which includes tuition and fees.
But since the spring of 1996, HCC's in-county tuition has risen $6 per credit hour, while out-of county tuition has risen $19 and out-of-state $30. The school's in-county tuition this fall will remain at $70 per credit hour for the third year in a row.
"It's great," said Christine Hawbaker, who is an in-county student pursuing an associate degree in business management at HCC.
"I just felt sorry for the other students because college costs too much," Hawbaker said. She said she would not feel bad carrying a few more dollars in cost to keep other, out-of-county students' tuitions lower.
Over last fall's rates, out-of-county students will have to pay an additional $11 per credit hour at HCC, and out-of-state students there will pay $22 extra per credit hour.
Some students said they are willing to spend the extra money if they can readily see results.
At Hagerstown Business College, a 550-student, privately owned school, student tuition increases were also about $20 per credit hour over the last two years.
Julia Gray, an accounting major at the two-year college, said she thinks tuition increases are valid as long as the school provides current text books, makes sure it has the best teachers and makes sure the facilities are in good shape.
Jason McCollum, a computer applications major, said new computer labs at HBC and easily accessible financial aid more than made up for the $5-per-credit-hour tuition increase.
"It took me 15 minutes to fill out the forms," McCollum said regarding financial aid applications, adding he received what he requested.
Tom Brooks, director of admissions at HBC, said the college can keep its tuition rates stable for a couple of reasons. Unlike most public institutions, HBC has no athletic programs, he said. Also, Quest Education Corp., HBC's parent company, is traded on the stock market.
"You're paying ... to not be treated like a student, but a customer," Brooks said.
But public schools have cost advantages, also, said Sandra Smith, the director of enrollment at FCC.
She said FCC administrators always try to get county and state contributions to support the cost of running a school before they "ever think about raising student contributions."