Suffolk County Community College has proposed raising tuition by 3.4%...

Suffolk County Community College has proposed raising tuition by 3.4% to help close an ongoing budget shortfall. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Suffolk County Community College has proposed raising tuition 3.4% for the 2024-25 school year, potentially the second increase in as many years as the school continues to struggle with a budget deficit.

Full-time resident tuition would rise by $190 to $5,830 per year, college officials said. The cost of a single credit would rise by $8 to $243.

The increase is included in the college's 2024-25 $206.8 million budget, which was approved Thursday by its board of trustees on a 6-0 vote during their monthly meeting at the Ammerman campus in Selden. The budget, about a quarter of which is funded by the county, requires the approval of the Suffolk County Legislature.

“There's balancing between keeping affordability but also keeping the school running in an efficient and positive way,” board chair E. Christopher Murray said during the meeting.

“No one likes to raise tuition,” Murray added, “but it’s something I think was doable for the students.”

The budget also includes a new health and wellness fee, $25 for full-time students and $10 for those attending part-time. The fee will cover access to mental health, medical and other services.

The $206,768,187 budget decreases overall spending by 1.9% from the previous year, due in part to reductions in staff. College president Edward Bonahue noted that the fiscal plan does not call for cuts to programs or services.

Nassau Community College in Garden City, which is facing a $14 million deficit for its 2024-25 budget, angered faculty last month when it unveiled a plan that included consolidating more than 20 academic areas of study down to six departments.

Suffolk’s 2024-25 budget calls for using $4,519,608 in reserve funds to meet the college's expenses. The current budget projected using $12.8 million in reserves, although officials said they will only use $7.1 million. College officials attributed the savings to “stringent management” of vacant positions and a retirement incentive program for eligible employees.

The college expects to increase tuition every year until 2028 when it is projected to close the budget gap, said Sara Gorton, interim vice president for financial affairs.

The college is also asking for $959,723 more, or a 2% increase, in annual county funding bringing that total to $51 million. State aid is projected to stay flat at about $50 million.

Legis. Stephanie Bontempi, (R-Centerport), chair of the legislature’s Education and Diversity Committee, said the panel was taking a hard look at the budget.

“We are all aware of the financial difficulties community colleges face today — look at Nassau Community College as an example,” she said. “What I can say is we support SCCC as an institution and that we need to do our due diligence, as a tuition increase should only be used as a very last resort.”

Nationally, the average annual tuition cost for in-district, two-year public colleges such as SCCC is $3,990, according to a 2023 report from the College Board.

Full-time tuition for Nassau County residents at Nassau Community College was $5,800 in 2023-24. In-state tuition at state-operated four-year SUNY schools, including those on Long Island, was $7,070.

Attendance at SCCC has declined by about 24% since 2011, but rose about 2% between 2022 and 2023, officials said.

SCCC enrolls 21,000 students across its three campuses, according to its website. The college projects a 1% enrollment increase for the fall semester.

“The only long-term solution is to increase enrollment going forward,” Murray said.

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