By Joshua Blake
For those who don’t already know, the college’s tuition has gone up $250 next semester, bringing annual charges to $4,390. Many people may blame the school at first glance, but the real problem lies within the state.
“It costs a lot to run an institution of higher education,” said Dr. Christopher Adams, Executive Assistant to the president.”We are not getting the percentage of increase of our sponsor share.” Last year, and the year previous Suffolk was able to get $150 F.T.E. This means that for every full time equivalent student, the college gets $150 dollars. “We thought we were going to get that this year, or possibly,” said Dr. Adams. The senate came in with $200, while the state assembly garnered only 50..
Students pay more than half of the college’s operating budget, the county pays 23.8% and the state pays 25.9%. The initial rules for state community colleges was to have each party pay one-third of the operating budget. Part of this is due to the fact that this isn’t going on is because the state can super-cede their own law.
If you’re still worried about the $250 increase starting in the Fall, keep in mind that it’s for the whole year. Currently, students have been paying $517.50 a month. Since the $250 raise, students will now pay $548.75 a month. This comes out to $31.25 more a month starting in the Fall.
The governor came in with a flat at $75. This would cut $3,000,000 to the college. Not much lee-way. Suffolk really wanted $250, but the $150 had to suffice. “So, something had to give,” Dr. Adams said. “We didn’t want to raise tuition.” He notes a problem with Suffolk’s accrediting body, Middle States.They expect the school to keep 10-20% of their operating costs in the fund balance in case of emergencies. This amount can range from 19 million dollars to 38 million dollars.
One way that the college may do this is by capping class sizes at 37 students – saving an estimated $750,000 a year, as well as an additional $500,000 for a paperless payroll system. “Keep in mind that we’re trying to update out facilities as well,” said Dr. Adams. A one-shot use of $4.3 million was used from Suffolk’s $24.9 million reserve fund to stop further increase. It’s possible that with the new payroll system and class size cap, this won’t have to happen again in the future.
“We’re working with our elected officials, both in the county and the state,” said Dr. Adams. “We also understand that the county is in a budget hold themselves.” This being said, the college can’t get what they always ask for. “It’s not sustainable for the institution as well. I admired our college president [Dr. Shaun McKay] who predicted these things were going to happen in 2010.
Even though Suffolk is an institution, it’s still a business – but this process of increasing tuition is not manageable. “If we don’t get increases on a yearly basis, we will have to continuously raise tuition.”