By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer

Tuition for two semesters is going up $100 at Mohawk Valley Community College starting with the fall term.

The school’s trustees set tuition for full-time students at $3,580, an increase of $100 or 2.9 percent over what it cost for two semesters this past school year. The charge per credit hour for part-time students also is going up, $10 more from the current $120 to $130. The credit-hour rate was last increased in the 2006-07 school year.

Trustees have directed the school’s administration over the years to hold tuition increases as small as possible to keep MVCC affordable. Tuition went up $80 in 2011-12, $50 in 2010-11 and $100 in 2009-10.

Also on Monday, trustees approved a $50.6 million budget to operate the Utica and Rome campuses. It represents an increase of $357,430 or 0.71 percent over the current spending plan.

Trustee David Mathis said it was "quite remarkable" the tuition hike was held to $100 given the fiscal constraints faced by the college as it prepared the budget. There was a gap of $2 million when the administration started the budget process.

He said MVCC ranked 25th lowest out of 30 New York community colleges for tuition, noting that nine charged more than $4,000 for a school year.

Two neighboring community colleges charge students more than does MVCC. Herkimer County Community College’s tuition is $3,640 for 2012-13. Students at Onondaga Community College in suburban Syracuse will pay $4,050.

Mathis also cautioned trustees that the State University of New York, which has oversight and responsibility for community colleges, might be looking at re-establishing a tuition cap on community colleges. He said such an action could hamstring future financial decisions at community colleges.

"It looks realistic to me," said Board Chairperson Elaine M. Falvo of the budget after President Randall J. VanWagoner reviewed some of the factors that drove the final number.

She added, "It’s going to be a hard year. ... We’re going to make it through."

The budget assumes a 1 percent enrollment drop. A headcount of 4,874 is projected for the fall.

VanWagoner said 11 MVCC employees took advantage of a retirement incentive program, adding that the anticipated savings resulting from the elimination of two of these jobs and lower salaries for the nine replacements is $317,000.

State aid also is going up next school year.

The county’s sponsor contribution to the MVCC budget remains at $7,280,100. This amount hasn’t been increased since 2008-09.