October 24, 2021

Per-student aid rises, but not by enough for some schools

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

SUNY Cortland students walk to class Wednesday morning. SUNY Cortland officials are trying to determine how construction aid in the recently approved state budget will affect the college, while Tompkins Cortland Community College officials said an increase in aid to community colleges may not be adequate.

The president of Tompkins Cortland Community College is disappointed in a $50 per student increase in state aid, because even with the rise, some colleges lose state aid although TC3’s aid goes up just by about $55,000.

At SUNY Cortland, a college spokesman said he’s not sure how much a statewide $550 million capital budget will help the Cortland campus, but it’s an important priority for the college.

The state’s $153 billion budget increases the aid per full-time equivalent student at TC3 to $2,747, but because enrollment is dropping at many of the community colleges, some will get less than last year, said TC3 President Carl Haynes

“They gave us $50 which leaves I believe at least 25 of the 30 community colleges receiving less state aid next year than they have this year,” Haynes said.

He would have preferred the state allow community colleges in the SUNY system to benefit from a boost of funding left over from past year’s unallocated aid. State aid funds only 24 percent of the college’s operating budget, he added, when it should fund a third.

Aid at TC3 will go up slightly, from $10,481,974 to $10,537,359. But Haynes is grateful that at least Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s version of the budget did not pass, which would have held the state aid flat at $2,697 per full-time equivalent student.

“You’ve got to be somewhat grateful for what you get even though it is still significantly less than where the state is supposed to be supporting our community colleges,” he said.

At SUNY Cortland, spokesman Fred Pierce said the $550 million allocated for SUNY maintenance projects and expansion programs, will benefit the college though he could not point to specifics yet.

“The maintenance effort was really important that they approved, that’s going to help us out to be able to stay current and keep up with our expenses,” Pierce said. “Once we find out what the money is, how much of that funding will be available for SUNY Cortland, then the president and his cabinet will make some decisions on how it will be used.”