ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
New York State has 36 public community colleges: thirty within the SUNY system and six within CUNY. With an enrollment of over 300,000 students, community colleges provide a primary source of access to higher education opportunities and increased wages for many non-traditional students who return to college later in life, attend part-time and/or combine work and family responsibilities with study. Community colleges play a significant role in re-educating dislocated workers and increasing the skill levels of New York State's most economically vulnerable populations. Community colleges have also emerged as economic development forces in their communities as they foster corporate and educational cooperation through state-funded contract courses to develop and maintain a highly skilled workforce. Finally, community colleges educate the individuals that will fill job openings in high demand fields, such as nursing and high-tech jobs, through their high need programs.
In 2008-09, the Legislature provided a total of $463.56 million to SUNY and $177.14 million to CUNY community colleges. Of these total amounts, $445.34 million was dedicated to SUNY and $166.12 million to CUNY community college base aid. Base aid is the state's responsibility for its share of community college budgeted costs and is comprised of a $2,675 payment for each full-time equivalent (FTE) student. The State, the sponsoring locality, and the students are meant to equally share in the operational costs of community colleges, with all parties paying one-third of the cost; the level of state support that community colleges receive directly affects tuition rates and local contributions. A decrease in state support leads to an increase in tuition for students who are the least prepared and the most economically vulnerable and an increase in the amount that counties, as local sponsors, must pay. The remaining $18.22 million for SUNY and $11.02 million for CUNY was appropriated to various state sponsored initiatives at community colleges such as childcare, additional support of high need courses, cooperative extensions, contract courses, and rental aid support.
Enrollment in community colleges has soared this year as a result of the recent economic downturn. Unfortunately, many of these colleges have or are reaching their maximum capacity and, as a result, are being forced to turn students away. At a time when college has become less rather than more affordable and families are facing unemployment and many need to update their skills or go back to school for new careers it is important to assess the condition of our community colleges. The Committee is seeking testimony on how New York State can keep community colleges both affordable and accessible while ensuring a quality education.
Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation. Fifteen copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Legislature, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Legislative facilities and activities.