Community College Funding and the NYS Budget
Community college funding comes from the state, the student, and county governments.
New York's counties create, sponsor, and fund community colleges and pay for a share of our residents' community college tuition. Community colleges in New York State are funded through a three-way partnership: the state, the student, and county governments.
Counties have raised concerns in recent years regarding the State's funding commitment to community colleges. In addition, over the last decade state support has fallen far short of the rate of inflation. The increases to community college support in this year's budget are necessary for sustaining this important branch of New York's public education system.
State Base Aid
The SFY 2019-20 adopted budget provides $453.9 million for state base aid, this translates to per student FTE aid of $2,947. While this per student aid is slightly higher than it has been in the past, current student enrollment is lower than in peak years and this can translate to less state funding support for individual community colleges. Importantly, the budget does provide new appropriation language that says no community college will receive less than 98 percent of the state aid they received in the prior year. The chart below provides state per student funding support over the last decade.
|Community College State FTE Rates
||State FTE $
These state aid rates fall short when you measure them against inflation over the same time frame. Had the state aid FTE rates kept pace with inflation since 2008, the rate for 2019-20 would amount to $3,234.
Historically, funding for community colleges was designed to be a three-way split between the state, counties and students. Initially, the state offered financial support of 40 percent to encourage counties to develop campuses across the state. This state funding commitment was later change to “up to” 40 percent.
As indicated, even though the state per student rate amounts have increased, the drop in enrollment can mean less state support overall at individual campuses. The combination of falling student enrollment and declines in total funding from the state can create shortfalls at certain schools that can lead to increased chargeback amounts between counties due to how the current chargeback methodology works.
The following table shows the trend in average community college chargeback rates over the last decade.
Significant revenues flow to community colleges beyond the amount appropriated in the state budget. For the 2017-18 academic year the total operating budgets for the 30 community colleges (sponsored by 37 counties and New York City) was $1.96 billion, far beyond the $480 million appropriated in the state budget.
The final budget includes roughly $3.4 million more than last year in funding for additional operating services and expenses of community colleges. It also provides language that will ensure no community college shall receive less than 98% of the base aid funding that it had received in the 2018-19 community college fiscal year.
Community colleges and their students deserve a steady, reliable funding stream and counties are grateful that the state is fulfilling their obligation to New York's students.