NYPIRG’s Higher Education Week zoom meetings with members of the New York State legislature are scheduled from Feb. 16 through 18th, 2022. This is a great opportunity to lobby with our students and make our needs heard. Our legislators need to know the plight of New York’s community colleges. To participate, fill out this RSVP link to join NYPIRG’s Higher Education Action Week, conta.cc/3r0Ai2g Here are some Talking Points for your consideration:
Why Nassau Community College Matters
* We are the most affordable option in Nassau County for students, serving Nassau residents from all communities.
* Our students successfully transfer into four-year colleges or enter the workforce. We count both students who transfer after completing their AA/ AS degree or who transfer before that point as a success. Our sought-after nursing program is now a 4-year degree.
* Our graduates stay in the County, which is good for the region economically; our alumni have markedly higher standards of living due to the degrees and credentials they receive at NCC.
* According to SUNY calculations, for every $1.00 in investment in SUNY, the economy reaps $8.00.
What SUNY’s Community Colleges Need:
New York community colleges have been especially hard hit by New York State’s disinvestment in SUNY, by national economic changes such as middle-class wage stagnation, and by the pandemic. We need increased funding from New York State. Ideally, the state will meet its promise of funding 40% of community colleges’ expenses.
Our community college infrastructure is in disrepair with critical shortages in full-time faculty, unfunded programs, buildings in disrepair, and unaffordably high tuition for students-–a direct result of the state’s disinvestment over the past decade. While nationally community colleges saw enrollment drop by about 14.4% from 2010 to 2017, as reported by the American Association of Community Colleges, our college experienced a drop of about 32%, going from about 24,000 in 2011 to about 16,350 in the 2017–2018 academic year. In contrast, during this same period, two states that had adopted state-wide, free-tuition College Promise programs actually saw enrollment increases according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Covid-19 has greatly exacerbated problems; The New York Times reported that community colleges were the hardest hit among institutions of higher education by the pandemic, with enrollment dropping nationally by 13.2% at community colleges from 2019 to fall 2021.
While we appreciate that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2022-2023 Executive Budget proposes a “100% funding floor for community colleges,” we would like to remind the legislature that the state has never lived up to its promise of funding 40% of operating costs at community colleges.
The current FTE (full-time equivalent) funding method is inadequate, unpredictable, and unstable. We need State funding to include fixed costs that remain constant regardless of enrollment numbers and regardless of whether students are part-time or full-time. In this era of Covid-19, we need, at the very least, for the Legislature to give community colleges 100% of 2018-2019 State funding, to provide funding based on Covid-19 enrollment is not sustainable for our college.
We also need robust financial aid for students. We ask that Gov Hochul’s 2022-2023 budget provide part-time students to be eligible for TAP as promised in her State of the State address. We also ask for more state funding to cover tuition costs for all students, or, at the very least, we ask the legislature to raise income limits for TAP raised by $30,000 or more to make more students eligible.
What we really need is State investment that will eradicate the damages of the State’s decade of disinvestment: reduce the class sizes that have grown, invest in full-time faculty that we have not had the funds to hire, invest in staffing for student services that have been cut or underfunded, invest in the new programs which we need funding to get off the ground, and invest in our buildings which are now in disrepair.
“Community College Enrollment in Crisis? Historical Trends in Community College Enrollment” American Association of Community Colleges. August 2019.
Saul, Stephanie. ”U.S. college enrollment dropped again in the fall of 2021, despite the arrival of vaccines” The New York Times Jan. 13, 2022.