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SCCC to freeze tuition, cut expenses next year in response to economic shutdown

Suffolk County Community College trustees adopted a 2020-21

Suffolk County Community College trustees adopted a 2020-21 budget plan on Thursday. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Suffolk County Community College plans to freeze full time student tuition at $5,470 for county residents and reduce spending by $7 million in response to the financial hardship the coronavirus shutdown has created for Long Islanders, college officials said.

The college’s board of trustees on Thursday approved a $213.3 million operating budget for 2020-2021, records show. This year's budget is $221.5 million.

Officials are cutting expenses, leaving positions vacant and dipping into the reserve fund, said trustee chairman Chris Murray. Fees also will be frozen, board records show.

There are no plans for layoffs or furloughs for full-time employees, although there may be reductions in adjunct teaching positions, officials said.

“It’s a hard time for everybody,” Murray said. “We wanted to be part of the solution in helping out our students in a difficult time.”

Officials said they hope the tuition freeze will boost enrollment, which would raise revenue, as students look for more affordable education options. The budget projects a 7% enrollment decrease, based on trends in recent years and the shutdown's expected impact on student finances, said Mark Harris, vice president for business and financial affairs.

Revenues are projected to fall by $11.4 million next year because of enrollment declines and lower state aid, Harris said. Reserves will cover an expected $7 million deficit, he said. 

The college has received about $12 million in economic assistance from the federal CARES Act, enacted this year to aid individuals and organizations affected by the economic shutdown. Half must go directly to help students, Murray said.

Faculty and staff still are expected to get contractual raises, college officials said. The Suffolk County Legislature is expected to vote Tuesday on a new three-year faculty association contract that would provide 1.6% raises to full-time faculty each year.

The Legislature is expected to vote on the college budget next month.

Also Thursday, trustees voted to keep Louis Petrizzo as interim SCCC president until September 2021.

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