New York 2019-20 Budget to Provide Additional Funding, Services to State Community Colleges

New York’s community colleges received an increase in funding from the 2019-20 state budget in addition to assistance in providing courses to high school students.

Community college enrollment rates have decreased partially because of a strong economy, which stimulates several high school graduates to begin their careers rather than pursue postsecondary education.

The increase, which comes out to $100 per student, also includes a minimum amount of support for the community colleges even if enrollment decreases — something that has been a recurring issue for State University of New York (SUNY) community colleges. The 30 total community colleges in the SUNY system are mainly supported through per-student state funds, tuition and contributions from the counties they serve.

However, one of the more immediate impacts from the budget is a measure that permits the colleges to reduce or waive tuition fees for high school students enrolled in college-level courses, according to the Times Union.

“If colleges waive the tuition it makes it more likely that low-income students and first-generation college hopefuls will be able to participate in dual enrollment,” said Ian Rosenblum, executive director of Education Trust-NY.

Dual enrollment, or the term for high school students taking college-level courses, provides a way for students to earn college credits earlier than normal and as a way to help motivate students who might not be considering pursuing college after high school.

According to SUNY records, around 40,000 high school students currently take college courses through dual enrollment.

“Dual enrollment is such a powerful way to help students make the connection to college and see themselves as college material,” remarked Rosenblum.

The budget will also include an increase for non-public schools that will receive an additional $30 million in funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

In addition, the budget permits local public school districts to establish reserve funds for future increases in teacher pensions costs, which can increase or decrease over time depending on returns generated by the state Teachers Retirement System.

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