The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) on Tuesday joined with the New York Community Colleges Association of Presidents (NYCCAP) to call for an increase of $285 per full time equivalent (FTE) for community colleges in the 2016-17 State Budget.
“Community colleges are the most effective economic and community development solution in the state, and we need to secure our ability to serve the educational needs of our students, both those choosing to attend after high school and adults returning to school for new job skills and careers,” said Randall J. VanWagoner, president of Mohawk Valley Community College, and president of the Association of Community College Presidents.
Community colleges in New York State are funded through a three-way partnership: the state, the student, and the sponsor county. Traditionally, this was intended to be an equal partnership. As demonstrated below, that funding formula has shifted considerably since the 1970s. Today’s students now fund 43 percent of community college operations while the state picks up less than 25 percent of those costs.
Community college enrollment surged from 2009-2014 in response to the needs of New Yorkers during the great recession, admitting high school graduates who could not afford to attend four-year college tuition and returning adults laid off and out of work. Last year, enrollment levels returned to pre-recession numbers. Community colleges are experiencing fewer tuition dollars and a decline in state per capita FTE aid.
By keeping FTE aid flat, the proposed Executive State Budget represents an actual year-to-year decrease in direct state support of $20.6M (-4.3%), with 28 of the 30 colleges losing direct state support in the new academic year. With this drop in community college enrollment it is important to understand that “level funding per FTE” (at $2,597 per FTE) is actually 2.92% below 2007-08 funding levels per student.
Community colleges had requested an increase of $250 per FTE, an amount that would have been a projected year-to-year increase of $22.7M (+4.8%), with 24 colleges increasing direct state support by an average of $1.0 M and six losing direct state support at an average of $69K.
This $250 per FTE increase of 4.8 percent, however, falls short of the average annual increase of 6.2 percent that the colleges have faced in employee benefits costs in recent years. The adjusted request of $285 per FTE would result in a year-to-year increase of support from the state of approximately $29 million, and match the historic 6.2 percent level. This will position community colleges to more effectively respond to the complex and substantial needs of our current and future students.