Change may cost college


The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger recently informed the Board of Trustees a change to the “charge-back” system could cost the college about $200,000.

Under state education law, counties pay a “charge-back” fee when one of their residents attends a community college outside of their home county.

Swanger said the total amount a college can charge the counties varies from one institution to the next because it’s based on a formula that takes the sponsoring counties contribution and the number of students within those counties attending the college to determine the rate.

The charge-back rate changes each year and is based on the formula decided by the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

“There has been a push back from the counties on the cost of charge-backs and the unpredictability of charge-backs because of the formula,” Swanger said.

He said concerns from the counties forced SUNY to try to “even out the system.”

“SUNY is trying to come up with a more predictable system for the county and they are, but this first year of implementation is a hit,” Swanger said.

Swanger said the college is expecting to lose about $200,000 next school year because of the proposed change.

He said the FMCC charge-back rate was previously about $2,100 per out-of-county student and would be reduced to about $1,700.

Swanger told the trustees he believes the proposed change will be included within the upcoming state budget.

Swanger said the change to the charge-back system is going to cost all community colleges across the state a significant amount of money.

“A $200,000 loss is a lot of money to us, but for some other institutions it’s going to cost over $1 million in lost revenue,” Swanger said. “It’s projected to cost community colleges across the state $17 million in lost revenue.”

The college’s Vice President for Administration and Finance David Morrow said the college is hoping the budget will include an increase in state aid to offset the reduction in revenue, although it currently remains flat within the proposed budget.

“In order to manage it, we will have to have an increase in state aid,” Morrow said. “The Governor’s [proposed] budget is flat on state aid, but we are hopeful the Legislature will see the need to offset this charge-back and general cost increases.”