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SCCC seeks $150 per full-time student tuition hike

Suffolk County Community College wants to offer more

Suffolk County Community College wants to offer more training programs to teach technicians how to work with high-tech materials called composites. Long Island aerospace companies need more of these skilled workers. Credit: Handout, 2010

The Suffolk County Community College board of trustees Thursday night proposed a tuition increase of 3.76 percent, or $150 per full-time student, as part of a $198.1 million budget for the coming school year.

The proposed budget would increase spending by 2.24 percent and raise tuition for full-time students from $3,990 to $4,140. Officials are proposing no fee increase.

Tuition this academic year was unchanged from the 2011-2012 term. Suffolk and Nassau Community College currently have the same tuition rates, and were among only four of the 30 state community colleges that did not raise tuition in the current school year. Those increases averaged 4 percent.

SCCC officials say they need the tuition hike, which will generate $3.2 million a year, to deal with rising expenses, including $2.8 million in pension and health insurance costs, and $1.9 million in salary increases. The three-campus school also will use $1.8 million of its $22.3 million reserve fund -- a one shot measure -- to balance the budget.

"We're trying to keep the budget as reasonable as possible," said Dafny Irizarry, trustee chairwoman. She added the college was reluctant to use the reserve fund, but "a lot of students are facing economic situations."

The community college, which is the largest in the state system, projects that enrollment, which hit record levels in the aftermath of the recession that began in 2007, will decline by 2 percent in the coming year. The administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has told the college not to expect any increase in the county's share of college expenses, currently $38.9 million or 23.9 percent of SCCC's budget, for the second year in a row.

Once the board of trustees acts on the budget, the spending package goes to Bellone, who will file the school's budget with the county legislature in June. Under state law, the county must at least maintain its contribution and cannot reduce it.

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