Suffolk County Community College trustees, facing a revenue falloff after several years of booming growth, on Thursday proposed a $219.9 million budget that includes $298 in annual tuition and fee increases for the coming school year.
College officials said the proposed 2.1 percent budget increase is the smallest in five years.
But enrollment, which had been projected to remain flat in this year’s budget, fell by 3 percent and is expected to drop by another percentage point for 2016-17 school year.More coverage2015 college graduations across LI
College officials said that, as a result, they were forced to seek a $200 annual tuition hike as well as a $90 annual increase in the technology fee and smaller hikes in student activity and transcript fees.
The proposed budget, if adopted by the county executive and the legislature this summer, will raise the current tuition for full time students from $4,570 to $4,770 beginning in September. .
“In looking at the larger picture with the tight finances of the state and the county being what they are, I think we came out with the best case scenario,” said Theresa Sanders, board chairwoman.
College fiscal aides warned earlier this year that SCCC was facing a $13.9 million shortfall. That included $5.5 million in lost revenue from tuition, fees and state aid because of the enrollment drop, and $2.8 million the college had to replace after tapping its reserve fund.
College officials cut $1.2 million in expenses from the budget, including axing four vacant college positions. The new tuition hike will bring in $4.1 million in additional revenue while the technology fee, which goes from $160 a year to $250 for a full time student, will bring in $1.8 million
Gail Vizzini, fiscal vice president, said the hike in the technology fee, which has not be raised in five years, is especially important to keep up with increasing demand for computer equipment and services. Even with the increase, the tech fee remains $10 below the average for other community colleges in the state, Vizzini said.
The fee for transcripts would go from $10 to $15, for $152,000 in new revenues. The student activity fee for full-time students would rise from $192 to $200 a year and would generate $250,000.
The administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone initially had said SCCC should only budget for a 2 percent increase in county contribution to the college this year.
Administration aides said Bellone agreed to a 2.5 percent increase, to bring in $1.02 million, because “education of our youth is a priority.” Under the recently approved state budget, state aid for the college also will rise by $1.9 million.
Jim Morgo, chairman of the trustees’ budget committee, said it is important to keep tuition affordable so “first generation college students can reach the middle class.” He said that if extra savings are found before the budget is adopted, they should go to lessen the pending tuition hike, or to mitigate future ones.
SCCC has 18,809 full time equivalent students and officials are budgeting for 18,621 starting in fall.