The Cayuga County Legislature voted unanimously on July 26 to approve Cayuga Community College’s $30.76 million 2011-12 budget. However, it did not approve the College’s request for a 2-percent increase in county support. The College will draw $56,830 from its fund balance to make up the difference.
Before the vote, College President Daniel Larson provided background about the operating budget during his monthly report to the Legislature. He pointed out that each year the College generates 22 times the $2.8 million the county provides in funds as the local sponsor. The funds provided by Cayuga County constitutes less than 9 percent of the College’s total operating budget, which doesn’t include $3 to $4 million in grants the College brings in from external sources nor the approximately $30 million in financial aid and scholarships given to Cayuga students each year.
The College was asking the county to increase funding by 2 percent to avoid dipping into its fund balance, which is projected by the end of its 2011-12 fiscal year to be at 7 percent of its total operating budget. This year, some of those funds have been earmarked for the Fulton Campus expansion. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the regional accrediting agency for the college, recommends that institutions maintain 5 to 15 percent of their total operating budget in the unreserved fund balance.
The budget, as passed, institutes a 7.25 percent, or approximately $260 a year, increase in tuition. The 2011-12 annual tuition is now $3,820 for full-time students, and the part-time rate is $150 per credit.
The tuition increase reflects the impact of state funding cuts of nearly $2 million since 2009 on the College budget. Cayuga County hasn’t increased its local share for the past two years. Approximately 88 percent of the budget is non-discretionary, including such items as heating, electrical, water, insurance, rent, and employee salary and benefit contractual obligations.
Tuition revenue accounts for approximately 48 percent of the College’s budget.
The majority of full-time students attending Cayuga will be able to absorb the tuition increases through financial aid and loans. Funds from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) can cover the increases for 75 percent of all Cayuga students currently receiving TAP awards, or approximately 1,425 out of 1,898 students. Federal Pell grants and loans are available to assist many of the remaining full-time and part-time students.
Despite the tuition increase, the College’s budget follows the recommendation from SUNY community college presidents to limit the maximum tuition increase to $300 or less for the 2011-12 academic year.
Among the areas where the College has tightened its fiscal belt are new staff and faculty hires, flat budgets for managers, and requests for equipment, which were reduced 77 percent.