Spending, tuition up in NCCC budget

SARANAC LAKE — North Country Community College’s proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year includes a spending increase of more than $1.1 million and a 4% increase to student tuition.

The college is projected to spend 8.6%, or $1,143,690 more, in the next fiscal year. Approximately $500,000 of that, or 43.7%, stems from contractual salary increases and pay for a variety of new staffers the college is planning to hire: two new admissions staff, a new IT person and a social media manager. Another portion is for a proposed increase in pay for adjuncts, part-timers and student-athletes.

Health insurance premiums are expected to increase by $156,575, and other contractual expenses by $280,933.

The college’s total spending plan is $14,493,095, with a projected deficit of $740,624. A $750,000 surplus from the Second Chance Pell Program, which offers incarcerated students federal aid, is expected to cover that.

The Franklin County Legislature voted to approve the school’s budget last week, according to the Malone Telegram. The Essex County Board of Supervisors has set a public hearing on NCCC’s proposal for July 1 at 9:30 a.m.

The amount of money Franklin and Essex counties contribute to the school is expected to remain the same for the fifth year in a row, at $1,290,000 each — $1,240,000 toward operations and $50,000 for capital projects.

Tuition increases, enrollment

College officials hope that an increase in student tuition and fees — paired with a projected 5.6% increase in traditional student enrollment — will bring in $5,901,108.

Tuition for in-state students would increase by $212, or 4%, to $5,076 annually under the school’s budget proposal. Out-of-state students would pay $499 more per year, or $11,972, also a 4% increase. The school proposed the same 4% increase in tuition last year.

Altogether, college officials hope this year’s tuition increase will result in additional revenue of $625,840. That’s if the projected enrollments — 1,025 full-time-equivalents, or FTEs — pans out. The college is expected to close out this academic year at 1,111 FTEs, according to NCCC Communication Director Chris Knight.

It’s unclear how the Excelsior Scholarship, a financial aid program adopted as part of the 2018 state budget designed to offer tuition-free education to qualifying students, may be impacting NCCC’s enrollment numbers. NCCC Chief Financial Officer Robert Farmer was not available for comment.

In a meeting last year with Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, officials from both NCCC and Clinton Community College said two-year colleges are seeing some negative impacts as a result of the Excelsior Scholarship. Students have to obtain at least 30 college credits per calendar year to qualify for the scholarship, a hurtle that CCC President Ray DiPasquale believed immediately disqualifies part-time students, and could be incentivizing high school graduates to choose four-year schools instead.

The state does offer a scholarship for part-time students. In addition to the part-time TAP program, the New York State Part-time Scholarship Award Program allows students who achieve a GPA of at least 2.0 to receive up to $1,500 in financial aid per semester for up to two years.

In its 2019-20 fiscal plan, the college is anticipating a drop in chargebacks, or money the college receives from other counties for educating students within the state but outside of Essex and Franklin counties.

Chargebacks are projected at $634,250. That’s a 14.5%, or $107,500, decrease from the current year.

In addition to offering two new online programs, one for liberal arts and another for business administration, the college is hoping to attract more students by increasing its Adirondack Scholarship from $2,500 to $2,600 for out-of-state students.