Schenectady County

Larger student housing backed

A bigger student housing proposal got a step closer on Monday as the Schenectady County Community Co
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A bigger student housing proposal got a step closer on Monday as the Schenectady County Community College board of trustees endorsed the concept of a 300-bed facility.

Meanwhile, college officials are seeing a surge in interest in the college. President Gabriel Basil told the trustees that the number of applications for the fall semester has increased by more than 11 percent. As of April 3, the Admissions Office had received a total of 1,315 applications, including 1,224 for full-time study.

“Criminal justice, culinary arts and music are our key programs and they’re still growing,” he said.

Basil added that this revenue would help the college’s bottom line. The college may seek a waiver from the SUNY board of trustees if it needs to increase its tuition by more than the state-mandated cap.

Basil said has worked to keep the budget as lean as possible, but an increase in tuition — currently at $2,890 per year — may be needed to keep up with the cost of providing the programs.

“Our tuition and fees are the lowest among all 30 community colleges,” he said.

SUNY has not set the limit yet.

With the strong interest in the college and a survey showing strong student interest in housing, SCCC officials are enlarging the housing project after approving in October a proposal to build a 215-bed facility off South Church Street.

The board discussed concepts with Columbia Development and BBL Construction in executive session for almost an hour.

Basil said developers are looking at various sites across from the college and trying to determine the financing and negotiate with potential property owners.

The project was initially supposed to cost $12 million, but it will obviously be more now, Basil said. College officials would like to determine a new design and cost for the project very soon.

“I’m hopeful it will happen within the next month,” he said.

Joe Stellato of Columbia Development said, “We’re still working it out, but we’re getting close.”

The developers were not able to start the original project on time because of the winter weather and other unspecified issues.

The college’s nonprofit foundation would technically own the facility because of a state law prohibiting community colleges from owning student housing. United Campus Housing would manage the facility.

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