The State University of New York said it likely will release a report on the community-college funding system later this month, according to the Albany Times Union. The analysis of the 30 community colleges was due by last Saturday, but SUNY officials said it was not ready yet, the newspaper reported yesterday.
The Legislature last year ordered SUNY to do the study because there have been complaints about the system from county governments, which have to pay a “charge-back” fee for every resident who attends a community college in another county, the article said. In many cases, the sending county has its own community college, but in some cases, such as in Putnam County, it does not.
The system for funding community colleges was established after World War II. Funding was to come from three places—one-third from the student, one-third from the state and one-third from the county. However, the state and counties have not kept pace with student tuition.
Some counties, such as Rockland, are passing along the charge-back costs to municipalities. Several months ago, Rockland County started asking its towns to pick up the costs for a number of services the county historically has covered, including the narcotics task force and community college charge-backs. The county has a $95 million budget deficit and would save $1.8 million by passing along the community-college fees to towns.
Rockland towns recently announced they would start billing the county for utilities for street lights, traffic signals and fire hydrants, intensifying a dispute between the towns and county government.
The five towns are supporting legislation introduced by Sen. David Carlucci, D-New City, that would prohibit the county from passing along the charge-back fees. The bill would require the state to pay for up to $1 million of the $1.8 million in charge-backs to cover the cost of baccalaureate and master’s-degree students at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, a four-year community college. Counties would still have to cover charge-backs for two-year degrees.