The State Fair Community College Board of Trustees voted at their regular meeting on Thursday to increase salaries and wages for employees amidst inflation and to raise tuition following the pandemic.

The compensation to employees will include a 1.2 percent increase to the faculty salary base and an increase in overload compensation for full-time faculty to $650 per credit hour.

Faculty will also be advanced one step on the salary schedule. Non-instructional staff wages will increase by 3 percent and the college will raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour. Adjunct faculty and part-time classified staff will also see increases in pay.

“Hiring and retaining qualified employees is a top priority to the college,” said SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson. “There is a direct correlation between having the best faculty and staff available and student success. Everything from enrollment and retention to graduation is affected by our personnel."

Tuition rates will increase by $4 per credit hour for in-district students; $8 per credit hour for Missouri residents; and $10 per credit hour for non-residents. The college will not raise tuition for dual credit students who enroll in SFCC courses while in high school, nor will there be any increase to the technology fee. The college did not increase tuition last year during the pandemic.

“It is unfortunate that the cost of everything is going up right now, from consumables to fixed costs and utilities,” said SFCC Vice-President of Finance Keith Acuff. “These increases not only fall below the caps set by the governor, but they remain below the Pell grants awarded to eligible students."

Federal Pell Grants are typically awarded to qualifying undergraduate students who are working toward a professional certificate or degree. Qualifying students can receive up to $6,895 per year by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly referred to as FAFSA.

In some cases where Pell grants don’t cover all costs, Missouri students are fortunate to have other funding opportunities from the state, such as the Missouri A+ and FastTrack programs.

“I would encourage every parent of high school students in Missouri to sign up for the A+ program, as it will help cover most of the cost for their first two years of college,” said Acuff. “Conversely, if you are an adult learner, I would urge you to take advantage of the FastTrack program, which can help any student over 25 years of age to go back to school and finish their degree."

In addition to Pell Grants, the SFCC Foundation awards scholarships totaling more than $250,000 each year. Students can learn more about funding options by visiting www.sfccmo.edu/ways2pay.

Students may enroll in courses for summer and fall after April 5, and applying for admission is free.

Community colleges across the nation lost about a third of their students over the past decade, with the most staggering year-to-year enrollment losses occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Community College Review, many high school graduates find affordable solutions to expensive four-year universities by attending community colleges in their area instead.

Professionals who require additional training or need to forge a new career path have also found community colleges to be an affordable solution to their career needs.

"However, community college is becoming a little less affordable in some areas, with the current economic slowdown forcing many schools to hike up tuition rates in an effort to combat rising costs and decreased funding," the Review said.