Fulton-Montgomery Community College will see a 4.2 percent budget increase for the 2012-13 academic year despite slight projected declines in enrollment.
The $20 million budget approved by the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Tuesday pitches in the usual county aid.
FMCC President Dusty Swanger said the budget increase is caused by a series of unavoidable expenses. There’s a 13.5 percent increase in employee benefits he said is mandated by law, and an increase in transportation subsidies, “so students can get here.”
“We look at our revenue sources,” Swanger said. “Projected enrollment, what we’re getting in state aid, county aid, then we see what tuition will have to be to balance the budget.”
Enrollment is expected to be down 3 percent from this year’s projections, to 2,180 full-time student equivalents.
This is the fifth straight year the college has received the same amount from the county level. Fulton and Montgomery both contribute $1.4 million, which makes up about 14 percent of the operating budget.
State aid did get a boost, increasing $150 per FTE, bringing the total to $2,272, which is roughly at 2006 levels.
The rest of the budget was balanced by $300,000 from the college fund balance, and a tuition increase of $50 over this year. Full-time tuition will cost $3,444 over the 2012-13 academic year.
“We did have to raise tuition,” Swanger said, “but there are still only three community colleges in the state that charge less than we do.”
The vast majority of the $20 million will go to personnel through salaries and benefits, with the rest paying utilities and building/equipment upkeep.
In the coming year, a large part of the college business plan is to stave off what looks to be a universal decline in college enrollment.
“Since 2006, enrollment has grown by 35 percent,” he said. “Now, as you look across the state, everyone is seeing a decline. When the economy is bad people go to college. When it gets better, they go back to work.”
Swanger plans to keep enrollment up by changing the aesthetic and social environment of the campus.
A new dorm that will double the college bed count is nearing completion. With more students living on campus, plans are in the works to convert an unused pool area into a non-alcoholic sports bar/student hangout area called Raiders’ Cove.
A new night events coordinator position has even been created to give the community college an air of the traditional four-year experience.
Most of the building costs, however, are not reflected in the budget. The college itself is not financially responsible for the dorms or the planned sports bar.
The joint nonprofit organization, Fulmont College Association, owns and will manage the new dorm with no subsidies from the college proper.
The FM Foundation is in charge of fundraising for projects like Raiders’ Cove, which keeps extracurricular costs out of tuition bills.