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Some Highlights from FSCJ’s First Annual Budget

The first budget of Florida State College at Jacksonville now has a budget to match their new name, which becomes official on August 1, 2009, when legislation identifying the College as a state college goes into effect.

The College’s first state college budget absorbs an $8 million reduction of recurring state funding for the 2009-2010 year compared to the current budget year. State appropriations for the College have declined by $17.6 million in three years.

Ten years ago, state recurring appropriations comprised 75 percent of the College budget. Due to a recent trend of state budget cuts and increasing student enrollment, state support of the College is now 51 percent of the total budget.

The new budget includes $6.1 million dollars of federal stimulus funds and $2.1 million in non-recurring funds from the state. These non-recurring funds, combined with revenue from enrollment growth and a proposed tuition increase, enable the administration to present the Board with a balanced budget with no budget-related layoffs.

If the proposed tuition and fees increases are approved, students attending full-time will pay an additional $339 annually.

The College remains one of the best values in higher education.

Among all 28 community and state colleges in Florida, FCCJ was 26th in cost of attendance for the current academic year. Only Tallahassee Community College and Northwest Florida State College offered tuition less than FCCJ this year.

Tuition and fees at Florida State College at Jacksonville will continue to be about 40 percent less than tuition for undergraduate classes at the University of North Florida and will be below the state average for all state and community colleges in Florida.

To minimize the impact of tuition increases, the College offers low-income students the largest institutionally-funded scholarship program of any community or state college in Florida. Need-based students will receive almost $2.9 million in scholarships from the College next year, an increase of $1.3 million from the previous year.

“We recognize that even modest tuition increases are difficult for certain groups of students,” said College President Steven R. Wallace. “These students tend to be those who earn too much to qualify for federal financial aid, but must make difficult decisions regarding attending college and meeting the needs of their families. Our scholarship program is designed to help students attend college and avoid loans to the greatest extent possible.”

Students on federal financial aid should not notice a difference because Pell Grants, which underwrite the cost of attendance for qualifying students, will increase by $619 for full-time students.
Balancing the budget means that employees will not receive a salary increase this year. The College will maintain its full benefit plan for employees.

The College anticipates continued significant enrollment growth. Full time equivalent enrollment for college-credit programs is up nearly 17 percent for the current summer session.

“Despite significant reductions in our state funding, this College has been very committed to serving students,” Wallace said. “While other institutions have managed enrollment to funding, this College has gone to extraordinary measures to meet northeast Florida’s increasing demand for accessible, affordable education. To date, we have not turned a single student away, nor will we do so next year.”

While no layoffs are planned as a result of budget reductions, the College’s reorganization as a state college will cause some shifts in staffing needs that may ultimately affect the continued employment of some current personnel.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to align the new state college with the emerging educational and economic development needs of the Jacksonville area,” Wallace said. “We know the demand for bachelor’s degrees from credible, affordable colleges is very high, and the supply is low. As a very comprehensive state college, we are organizing in the best way possible to meet the needs of our community and our students.”

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