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Maine Technical College System

News Release

FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, April 24, 2002
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

AUGUSTA, Maine – Trustees of the Maine Technical College System voted today to freeze tuition at the seven Technical Colleges for the fourth year in a row. The tuition freeze, at $68 per credit hour, means full-time students will continue to pay about $2,040 annually in tuition. The rates are effective for the 2002/2003 academic year.

“This action continues our commitment to addressing cost as the number one barrier to college,” said MTCS President John Fitzsimmons. “I want to commend our college presidents and their staffs for their work to improve efficiencies and make this work. In the long run, Maine people and Maine businesses will be better served by having a truly low-cost option that keeps college within reach of all citizens.”

The tuition freeze has been a high priority of the System’s Board of Trustees. While the Technical College tuition rate is the lowest in the state, tuition at Maine’s public colleges – like their New England peers – are among the highest in the nation. The national average for public two-year colleges is estimated to be about $54 per credit hour.

“The Board has looked closely at the people served by our Technical Colleges, and finances are a major challenge – from enrolling, to deciding their course load, to persevering through the end of their program,” said Jana Lapoint, Chair of the MTCS Board of Trustees. “We also know there are thousands of Maine people on low incomes who want a college degree but who don’t see it within their reach,” she said.

Nationally, tuition at public colleges has increased at a rate of about four percent annually over the past five years. Tuition rates around the nation jumped up last year, with two-year public colleges reporting increases averaging 5.8 percent, and four-year public colleges raising rates averaging 7.7 percent.  National tuition numbers are released each fall by the College Board, based on an annual survey of public and private colleges.

For the first time in four years, Trustees increased the range for college room and board rates, with the goal of eventually making campus housing self-supporting by setting rates based on fair market value in the colleges’ respective regions.  Less than ten percent of Technical College students – roughly 600 in all – will be impacted by the rate change.

“Our goal is to establish a cost structure that more accurately reflects regional differences as well as the actual cost of operating residence halls,” said President Fitzsimmons.

Trustees set new room and apartment ranges at $1,000 to $1,875 for the upcoming year; board will range from $2,100 to $2,860. The new rates raised the cap by ten percent. As part of the Trustees’ vote, President Fitzsimmons was charged with reviewing comparative rates at other higher education institutions in each Technical College region, to help establish fair market value rates for each region.

As a result of the action, Central Maine Technical College (CMTC) in Auburn, Eastern Maine Technical College in Bangor, and Southern Maine Technical College in South Portland are each expected to raise their rates by ten percent for this fall. Room and board rates at NMTC will increase by only three percent, while rates at Washington County Technical College in Calais will not change this year. Kennebec Valley Technical College in Fairfield and York County Technical College in Wells do not have residence facilities.

Five-Year Strategic Plan Endorsed

Also on Wednesday, the Board endorsed a new, five-year strategic plan for the System. The extensive planning process that began last summer involved all members of the college community. The plan’s objectives and measures are based on seven major goals:

  1. Increase enrollment to at least 10,000 students annually (from 6,400 today)
  2. Meet or exceed national quality standards in academic and student support services
  3. Continue growing online courses and incorporating technology in teaching and learning
  4. Create an environment that promotes diversity
  5. Continue the evolution to comprehensive (occupational and liberal arts) two-year colleges
  6. Support economic development in Maine
  7. Assure adequate financial resources for the colleges

In other board action, Trustees endorsed several requests by the colleges to add or discontinue academic credentials offered within programs. CMTC received authorization to add an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting.