EL DORADO, Kan. -- As the cost of higher education keeps rising higher, a local community college is trying to make a bold statement by holding the line.
Butler Community College's Board of Trustees voted unanimously this week to keep tuition fees at current levels through the 2014-2015 school year.
"For our current students, it's a great thing because it keeps costs down and for our new students it keeps college education affordable," said Bill Rinkenbaugh, Butler's Vice President of Student Services.
It was just a year ago the Kansas Regents approved a big increase to tuition fees for the state's public universities. In some cases, it was as much as an eight percent jump.
But Butler leaders say they have been determined not to go that route.
"Most colleges and universities in their plans look at future budgets and just kind of build into their planning taht there will be an increase in tuition," said Dr. Greg Joyce, a Butler Community College Trustee. "We took a line this year and said no it's going to stay."
Trustees say several years of strategic planning have made their decision possible.
"The administration found places where we can be more effective, more efficient and keep tuition levels level," Dr. Joyce said. "Our board has a really good working relationship with this administration and past administrations, so when that administrative group comes to us and says, 'We've crunched the numbers, we can make something work.' We really don't have doubts that it can be done."
Rinkenbaugh says the Trustees' decision is a big deal for students. He says he knows even an extra five dollars per credit hour can cause students to reconsider whether college is financially an option.
"For students taking 15 credits, or 30 credit hours for the year, that's another $150 out of their pocket," Rinkenbaugh said.
He and the board are hoping that by keeping Butler affordable, it'll make the school standout and attract more students.
"I've been at an institution where we lowered tuition fees and our actual tuition revenue the following year went up. I think that's a very real possibility (here)," Rinkenbaugh said. "Students pick up an extra course. They know they can go to full time instead of part time and their financial aid that they may be eligible to receive may go further."
Rinkenbaugh says higher enrollment and tuition revenue could help create a better opportunity to keep tuition fees down in the future.
He says that would help with the college's ultimate goal.
"Anything we can do to make college education more affordable and get (students) into the workforce will be a benefit for them and the state of Kansas, the county and the people we serve," Rinkenbaugh said.