(AACC) is asking the County Council for $5 million more and students to pay $240 more per semester in order to balance what trustees called a bare-bones budget.
The college’s 2013 budget was approved on Tuesday by the Board of Trustees.
Included in the $110,621,000 budget is a tuition hike that raises the credit hour cost by $16. With that increase, a full-time student taking 15 hours of courses would pay $240 more each semester.
“These are tough times,” said trustee Walter Hall.
Hall, also chair of the budget committee, said the tuition hike could be a hard pill to swallow for some students. But it was necessary in order to supplement declining funding from the county.
“We’re going to have to ask the students to make an even greater contribution than they ever have in the past,” Hall said. “That could well affect us in terms of (full-time students).”
The college’s enrollment declined this year, due in part to increases in fees, Hall said. The fee increase proposed in the newest budget is the largest in the college’s history.
Student Association President Abdul Khan spoke at the meeting, saying he believes the tuition hike might convince some students to begin considering universities. Other students who are covered by federal financial aid might not even notice the increase, he said.
Trustees are also relying on the County Council giving them $5.2 million more than last year.
AACC president Martha Smith said the college was hit by an “unanticipated” $5.2 million reduction by the council during budget talks last year. The amount they are requesting this year would restore it to 2011 levels.
To navigate that political minefield, Hall said the budget committee was counting on the support of County Executive John R. Leopold, who in the past has stood behind the college’s requested amount. But it’s ultimately up to the County Council to decide the funding level.
“We’re hoping that if (Leopold) does that, the County Council will step up to the plate and also support that,” Hall said.
Smith said there has been a noticeable decline in performance at the college as a result of the budget cutbacks from the county and stagnant state funds.
“As a result of declining state and county funding, we are now seeing signs of fraying around the edges of our performance and erosion of our mission mandates,” Smith said.
That erosion has kept the college from maintaining a competitive salary, kept students from timely visits with support services and has resulted in significant downtime for its network.
This year’s budget also reserves no funds for salary increases for employees, continuing a trend that was set in 2009.
Revenue for the 2013 budget:
- $26,648,900—state (no change)
- $33,822,700—county (increase of $5,266,300)
- $45,860,000—tuition (increase of $2,523,900)
The budget was passed by a 6-1 vote, with trustee Kimberly Burns voting no. It now moves to the desk of the county executive before it will be presented to the County Council.