NCCC budget set to be finalized next month
Officials project to about break even
SARANAC LAKE — The North Country Community College Board of Trustees expects to approve the school’s 2019-20 budget next month.
The budget forecast presented at Friday’s board meeting expects a $135,000 deficit for the 2019-20 year, but college officials were confident they could bring that down.
“We are working to bring that down to a break even,” said NCCC Vice President of Administration Robert Farmer. “It’s a good start. It’s in good shape. … At our next meeting we’ll talk about passing this on to the (college) Senate.”
The largest change in the budget is an expected 15 percent, $673,081 drop, in in-state tuition revenue due to declining enrollment. Out-of-state tuition revenue is expected to increase by $262,421 — up 45.6 percent from last year’s budget.
For next year, the college is budgeting for 1,025 full-time equivalences in its student population — compared to around 940 right now. The college fell about 40 FTEs short of its goal this year.
“I know we’ve been talking about decreases in FTEs,” Farmer said. “But we’re doing a number of things strategically to try and attract more FTEs.”
Among these: new online business administration and online liberal arts programs aimed at attracting non-traditional students. Increases are also expected as a result of hiring a new admissions staff member, as well as 20 new student athletes after hiring a new soccer coach. More students are also expected to be drawn from out of state next year.
“So you add all those up, it adds up to 1,030, we rounded down to 1,025,” Farmer said.
Total revenue is expected to be $13.7 million, up 7 percent from the 2018-19 budget. The draft also budgets for a 2 percent, $71,061 decrease in state aid.
At Friday’s board meeting, a 4 percent increase to tuition, and small increase to fees, was approved in advance of a finalized budget, in order to get admissions materials sent out to prospective students earlier.
This would raise estimated tuition for in-state students to $5,076, and out-of-state tuition to $11,972 — not including fee increases.
“Our proposed tuition increase is 4 percent,” Farmer said. “Many SUNY schools are going 6, 7, 8 percent this year.”
NCCC President Steve Tyrell said this is to even the playing field with other colleges that can get their materials sent out earlier.
“If we have to wait for tuition and fees to be approved, we lose another month,” Tyrell said. “This is another way to get ahead of the game. In fact, we’d like to do it earlier next year if we can pull it off.”
Total expenses stand at $14,627,240 — $1,277,835 more than the 2018-19 budget.
Among the reasons for the increase: a projected $600,675 increase in salaries, but Farmer said college officials are likely to lower that amount by the time they finalize the budget in April.
Farmer said a third of that was due to contractual salary increases. The college is also budgeting for a new soccer coach, a new member of the admissions staff, a new information technology position as well as a webmaster.
Additionally, he said they’ve increased the salary for the incoming president, and the rest is due to increases in part-time and adjunct instructional pay.
NCCC is also planning to offer more out-of-state scholarships — with a $175,000 increase budgeted there.
“Our out-of-state students have gone from the mid-60s down to like 42, so we’re losing out-of-state students. And we increased the scholarships by $2,500, $2,600 (each),” Farmer said. “Their tuition can be on par with in-state tuition.”
Tyrell said the increase will be a net wash in revenues, as those out-of-state students fill the college’s dorms and take-out meal plans, as well as pay other fees.
There is a 60 percent increase in professional services budgeted — $132,220 — because of the fees paid out for the presidential and vice president of enrollment searches, as well as bringing in consultants to draft the master plan.
Making up the shortfall
Of the $884,873 deficit, the college is budgeted to receive $750,000 in Second Chance Pell Net Surplus funds. This program provides people in prison who are likely to be released within five years with Pell Grants to further their education upon their release.
Farmer said the remaining $134,873 could come out of the college’s fund balance — which currently stands at around $5 million.