Students make their way across the campus of Suffolk County...

Students make their way across the campus of Suffolk County Community College in Selden. (April 12, 2011) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Suffolk County Community College, bolstered by increased state aid and employee concessions, has proposed a $193.7 million budget for the next school year that keeps annual tuition at $3,990.

The proposed budget, $1.46 million below current-year spending, will keep tuition flat after five years of increases. Over the period, annual tuition -- which was $3,100 in 2006-07 -- has risen by $890, or 29 percent.

Officials said state aid has increased by nearly $3 million to $46.4 million; the county share of college costs will be unchanged at $40.5 million. Savings include $3.5 million from a 2.5 percent reduction in departmental expenses.

The faculty union agreed to increases in class sizes and no wage hike this year and next -- except for step increases for experience -- while the administrators' union took a three-year wage freeze. Top administrators outside the union, including the president, also took a wage freeze through 2013. The proposed college budget includes no use of its reserve funds.

The decline in college costs comes as Suffolk this school year had its first enrollment drop after six years of record growth from 21,859 in 2006 to 25,310 last year. While the college had forecast 2 percent enrollment growth for 2011-12, enrollment dropped by 1.4 percent in fulltime equivalent students. The new budget anticipates enrollment will decline another 1.5 percent fulltime equivalent students in the coming year.

"What we saw a lot of this year is a lot of students who once attended full time were now going part time," said Mary Lou Araneo, a college vice president.

The college trustees approved the proposed budget at Thursday night's meeting at the Selden campus. The spending package is then to go to the county executive's office for review and later the county legislature for a vote. The only portion that the county executive or legislature can change is Suffolk's financial contribution.

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