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Change may net $1.9M for SCCC

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
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— Schenectady County Community College could see an additional $1.9 million in revenue annually if a recommended change to the formula for billing out-of-county students is enacted.

The State University of New York is considering altering the way community colleges bill other counties for students who attend their institutions — referred to as “charge backs.”

For example, Schenectady County pays $2.4 million in charge backs annually to other community colleges for local residents who attend community colleges outside of the county. However, under the state’s complex formula currently used for determining charge backs, Schenectady County receives nothing from other counties, SCCC President Quintin Bullock told the Board of Trustees Monday.

SUNY’s proposed new formula would be simplified, according to Bullock. It would result in Schenectady County receiving money from charge backs.

In the 2010-11 school year, SCCC had about 2,000 full-time equivalent students from Schenectady County and 1,788 from outside the county, which would result in the $1.9 million figure under this formula.

Another change, according to Bullock, is that the new formula would use actual enrollment from a previous year instead of projections, as is currently done. Under the current system, colleges often have to make adjustments because the previous year’s actual enrollment didn’t line up with what was projected.

SUNY’s Board of Trustees must sign off on the proposed change.

Bullock said the goal is to have the formula fully implemented by the 2014-15 school year, if not sooner.

SCCC board member Gary Hughes, also a county legislator, said the college has tried to expand its programs with an eye to attracting students not just from Schenectady County but from all over the region.

The county is currently spending about $2.4 million in charge backs to other colleges. It also gives $2.1 million in funding to the college.

“If we had a smaller charge back number going out, we could have a bigger sponsor contribution,” he said.

Bullock said some colleges would lose money under the proposal. “The intent was to have a fair formula that will be implemented across all 33 community colleges,” he said.

Jay Quaintance, SUNY assistant vice chancellor for community colleges, said the proposal grew out of a desire by community colleges to know what their charge back would be.

“Under the current structure, there’s huge fluctuations from year to year. This would essentially level out that fluctuation,” he said.

The formula would be a lot cleaner, according to Quaintance.

The proposal has been sent to the Legislature for its review. Switching from using projected to actual numbers does not need legislative approval, Quaintance said, but other aspects of it do.

He did not have an exact timetable but agreed with Bullock that the 2014-15 school year is a target goal.

 
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