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Wayne Post
  • FLCC faces state aid loss, possible tuition hike

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  • HOPEWELL — Despite New York state legislators putting an additional $20.2 million in community college support in the state’s newly passed budget, at Finger Lakes Community College, President Barbara Risser said the amount of state aid it will actually receive could lead the college to use reserve funds and increase tuition.
    The increase in support to community colleges translates to about $75 per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student, raising the total amount of state aid per community college student to $2,497 per FTE.
    But, community college presidents were asking for increased funding of $250 per FTE.
    The additional $75 per FTE is welcome, but not much help, Risser said at last Wednesday’s meeting of the FLCC Board of Trustees.
    The real problem, Risser said, is the way state aid is calculated, using a weighted, three-year average of FTE students enrolled. The three school years being used — 2011-12 to 2013-14 — coincide with when enrollment started to fall at FLCC. Thus, not only is the base per student not enough, it’s multiplied by fewer students, Risser said.
    “As a result, we anticipate that the increase of $75/FTE will be a total loss of state aid revenue for us of more than $300,000," Risser said.
    James Fisher, the college’s vice president for administration and finance, added, “we needed to be at $150/FTE to give us a little (revenue) bump.”
    The college’s FTE enrollment for the last four years is: 5,031 in 2010-11, 5,009 in 2011-12, 4,737 in 2012-13 and, projected for 2013-14, 4,515.
    “A lot of community colleges are losing enrollment faster than we are,” Risser said. “This really hit them hard. Just about all community colleges have lost enrollment. It’s a trend going on nationally.”
    Risser said the college will prepare for the loss in state aid.
    “We’ve been very conservative of the last few years,” she said. “We run a very tight operation. We will use reserve funds and work on our expenses. We will ask Ontario County for additional funding that would allow us to take less out of our reserves.”
    Risser added, “ … we will probably need to increase tuition.”
    But, on the other hand, FLCC may have temporarily dodged a bullet, Risser said.
    According to Risser, proposed changes in the chargeback formula — how a community college in one county assesses costs for students attending from another county — would have caused a $1.8 million shortfall if they had been implemented.
    “The proposed change in the chargeback formula, if implemented next year as was the original plan, would have had an extremely negative impact on FLCC,” Risser said. “The formula that was under consideration would have disproportionately impacted some community colleges. FLCC would have been in the top five community colleges in the state that would have been most negatively impacted by the change.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Risser said the advocacy effort to cancel the revised chargeback formula will continue.
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