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April 19, 2024

College Tuition & Fees – price fixing by e-mail?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On April 1, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

We have been informed that a push back is taking place from other parts of the state with the claim that COD is an isolated problem and their schools should not be lumped into the problems of COD.

I think today’s Daily Herald proved the problem is at all of them! They exposed it is not only COD’s Administration and Trustees being dined on the taxpayer dime, but pretty much every college out there!  The problem?  There is nothing in the statute that provides these types of benefits, no matter what the cost.  (Click here Herald story)

While they are off spending money feeding their faces, students are wondering what next year’s tuition is going to cost them so they can plan accordingly.  At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet and students are desperate to obtain an education at an affordable price we would expect each and every college to be working towards that goal.

Part of the process of ensuring an affordable education would include a cost benefit analysis, profit & loss statement, etc. Let’s not forget, as Breuder claims, COD is being ran like a business.  Most would agree before doing anything in a business it is wise to have a cost benefit analysis to support the action.

What type of analysis goes into the tuition rates?

What if I told you it may be established by nothing more than a few emails back and forth between colleges? 

Saturday, January 04, 2014 1:23 PM

Subject: Tuition and Fee Increases
What are your planned tuition and fee increases for FY 2015?
Ronald N. Ally
Executive Vice President
Finance and Administrative Services
William Rainey Harper College

Most interesting with this email, which was sent to 6 other colleges to include COD, is the fact that the very subject line assumes they are all going to increase Tuition and fees!

Recipients included:

  • College of DuPage
  • College of Lake County
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • Elgin Community College
  • Triton College
  • Joliet Junior College
  • Oakton College

What does it matter what other schools are doing as far as tuition rates?  Shouldn’t each school’s tuition rate and fees be based on the financial condition of that school’s own cost benefit analysis or profit & loss statement?

It’s no secret that COD has a history of tuition rate increases, and most would agree the only reason there was a freeze this year was because of the public outcry over the war chest they have, and the negative press Breuder has brought to the table.

More concerning to me is the language of deception used by Harper College Executive VP of Finance and Administration.

“I’m meeting with our student government tomorrow about this, so don’t want to share anything out of school.

What I received previously was that Moraine and Triton already have $5.00 increases approved for next year, so those should be ok.

The rest were just being considered, etc., at that time.

For the others, what can I say? (Of course I will use language like being considered or under discussion or whatever you would provide.)

Harper is recommending a $1.75 increase, which is tied to the 1.5% CPI-U for 2013.

All indications in this email communication point to questionable, if not deceptive, language that will be used in raising tuition and fee rates.  But first, one must ask, what does Harper have to do with all these other school tuition rates?

Thomas Glaser of COD was a recipient of these communications and his forward to Breuder stated:

“In addition to this information below on Harper, Joliet is going to introduce a $4/credit hour increase to their Board, after already raising the capital portion of the tuition by $4 in January.”

So by all indications, the COD Administration and other college administrations are sharing what each of them are doing as it relates to tuition rates and fees.  If local gas stations share such information and discuss others rates as OK, it is called price fixing and it is a crime!  One can only wonder if the Anti-trust laws might have been crossed!

I will give credit to the fact Harper did list justification for their raise being tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers.

Why are multiple colleges participating in communications about tuition rates and fees?  Each college has its own set of issues, costs, revenue etc. and what other colleges are doing should not be a factor in determining what an educational institution is going to cost our children.

If this is not an example of the lack of oversight at our community colleges then I don’t know what is.  The problems we are exposing are not isolated to COD and I can assure you the list of more to come is significant!

Public bodies are doing things that they simply are not allowed to do.  Many cases out of ignorance but more often than not, they have forgotten they work for the people. The actions of these colleges colluding about tuition rates and fees is unacceptable in my opinion!

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1 Comment
  • Mike Rekart
    Posted at 13:26h, 01 April

    What can I do to help? PIck a school and start digging?