With question marks still hovering over Albany's budget deliberations and students across the state looking to stretch their higher education dollars, two things are clear at Cayuga Community College. Enrollment will rise in 2010-11, and tuition will stay the same.
For the coming year, the college has announced it will continue last year's annual tuition rate of $3,560 for full-time students living in New York State. Those who live outside Cayuga County must provide a current Certificate of Residence from their county clerk to qualify for in-state tuition.
Two neighboring community colleges, according to their websites, are increasing their tuition and will charge more than Cayuga. For 2010-11, tuition at Onondaga is $3,784 and at Tompkins-Cortland, $3,760.
With classes starting September 1, Cayuga projects a solid increase in enrollment for the coming year. Already, 2,823 students have registered for the fall semester, a year-to-date rise of nearly 10 percent. The numbers continue an upward trend; last year's total enrollment jumped 31 percent from 2008-9.
According to Diane Hutchinson, vice president for administrative services and treasurer for Cayuga, the annual tuition planning process must balance several possible scenarios for enrollment, operating costs, state aid and other potential revenues and expenditures. "An increase in enrollment," she explains, "doesn't necessarily mean a windfall, because it may necessitate adding instructors, technology and services."
An unknown factor, pending resolution of the New York State budget, is the amount of state aid Cayuga will receive. Aid is normally based on the number of students, along with some funding to offset rental costs for the college's Fulton branch campus. Even designated aid is not a given. Last year's allowance of $2,675 per full-time student was cut by $130 before the first semester had ended. While some community colleges increased tuition midyear to make up the loss, Cayuga held fast, expressing concern for the myriad cost pressures faced by students. For 2010-11, Albany whittled another $285 from the proposed state budget.
The future of Fulton operations adds a further variable for Cayuga. Purchase of a new location in Oswego County is a priority, states Hutchinson, with classroom and parking capacity stretched to the limit in the current leased space just west of downtown Fulton. Temporary solutions to the space crunch may include extended weekday hours or Saturday classes, according to Maggie Killoran, associate vice president and dean of the Fulton campus. Relocating to college-owned property, she adds, "will eliminate the rental-aid variable and provide a campus we can develop cost-effectively for the long term."
Applications for Cayuga's Auburn, Fulton and online classes are accepted throughout July and August, but latecomers may find some courses filled to capacity.