Tonawanda News

May 15, 2013

NCCC tuition hike proposed

By Joyce M. Miles
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — SANBORN — A modest tuition increase is anticipated in Niagara County Community College’s proposed 2013-2014 budget.

The college is calling for a 2.6 percent or $96 increase in tuition charged to Niagara County residents, bringing the yearly total to $3,792.

Statewide, community college tuition is increasing by an average of 3 percent, William Schickling, vice president of finance and information technology, said.

NCCC’s proposed $49 million budget anticipates a 1 percent spending increase or $463,000 in year-over-year spending. A 1 percent increase in employee fringe benefit costs, including pension and health insurance charges, is more than offset by net reduction of three positions at the school.

The overall spending increase is driven by planned equipment purchases, mostly computer- and instruction-related items, and higher expected contractual costs including utilities.

Also within the contractual budget, in 2013-14 administration will invest in “repurposing” instructional space that was vacated last year with the culinary arts program’s move to Niagara Falls, Schickling said.

Of staffing, he said, the administration proposed hiring a third computer programmer to add a portal to the school’s website, which would make it more user-friendly for students and prospective students, add a module for administration to manage dormitory operation and another module for teaching staff to more closely track students’ academic progress.

On the income side, NCCC is expecting a slight increase in state aid, 1.3 percent, bringing the line to $12.3 million. It’s also expecting a 59 percent ($1.5 million) increase in chargeback revenue, the tuition premium paid by non-Niagara County resident students’ home counties. Chargeback and out-of-state tuition revenues together are estimated to be $4.5 million. Fees and tuition charges for local full- and part-time students will bring in another $21.8 million.

While 2012-13 student enrollment is down about 5 percent from the previous year, school officials expects the number to climb again in 2013-14, courtesy of non-Niagara County and out-of-state students. NCCC’s nursing, criminal justice and hospitality programs are the big draws, college President James Klyczek said.

Enrollment at higher education institutions is declining across the nation, as the number of high school graduates going straight to college decreases, Schickling said. NCCC hit its enrollment peak in 2009-2010, when the recession caused more non-traditional students to seek out schooling.

Administration is not seeking an increase in funding from Niagara County in 2013-14. That budget line will remain $8.8 million for a seventh consecutive year. By state law, from year to year the county can raise, but cannot reduce, the operating subsidy.

Also on the income side, the administration is counting on $1 million in miscellaneous revenue and use of $500,000 in the school’s fund balance. On paper, the 2012-13 budget was balanced with use of $932,000 from the fund balance but as it turns out the school may only spend about $250,000, Schickling said.

The Niagara County Legislature will hold a public hearing on NCCC’s proposed budget at 6:45 p.m. May 21 at the county courthouse, Lockport.