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HCC lowers out-of-state tuition fees

April 27, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

Hagerstown Community College is hoping to attract more students from Pennsylvania and West Virginia by dropping out-of-state tuition rates.

Rising rates for out-of-state students have led to declining enrollments, HCC President Norman Shea said.

Four years ago, out-of-state students made up one-third of the student population. Now they account for one-fourth of all students.

As a result, the college had to drop advanced science, math and language courses that didn't enroll enough students.

Shea and other college officials were able to convince the Maryland General Assembly this year that lowering tuition for out-of-state students would ultimately help Maryland students.

"We increase choice for Maryland students by having out-of-state students," Shea said.

Tim Bader, who is studying human services at HCC, was worried that his tuition bill was going to increase this fall. Bader lives in Greencastle, Pa., just a 20-minute drive from the college.

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Instead, Bader's bill dropped by $700, he said.

If the law hadn't passed, one nursing student told college spokeswoman Patti Friend that she would have had to drop out of school.

Out-of-state residents still pay more than twice as much as Washington County residents, who are charged $70 per credit.

Out-of-state residents now pay $169 per credit. The tuition was scheduled to go up to $196, but the law that will take effect July 1 instead reduces it to $143.

The lower out-of-state rates make the college more competitive with Tri-State area schools such as Hagerstown Business College, Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Penn State's Mont Alto campus in Pennsylvania, Shea said.

"We think the new rate makes us the best higher education buy in the I-81 corridor. We become the economic alternative for students," he said.

Because of the rate change, HCC expects to see a 7-percent increase in enrollment this fiscal year. Eventually, Shea hopes it will return to previous levels.

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