Tuition, fee hikes likely in wake of budget cuts

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
April 3, 2001
Tuition and fees are likely to go up during the next school year as area community colleges cope with cuts caused by the state's economic woes.
The state Legislature makes its budget based on projections. When the projections fell short earlier this year, state funding was cut back and all of the community colleges had to absorb the loss. On an average, the cuts earlier this year were between $550,000 to $600,000 for East Mississippi, Meridian and East Central community colleges.
As the Legislature worked out the FY2002 budget during its recently concluded term, lawmakers again cut funding for the community colleges. When the new budget year starts in July, East Central will be working with $1,103,579 less than it started with last year, while East Mississippi will be trying to make up for a cut of $860,467
Things are looking a little brighter at Meridian Community College, which will have $628,000 less to work with.
In the first round of cutbacks, the college lost $575,536 from its original budgeted appropriation from the state. However, only $53,000 was cut from MCC's FY 2002 budget as compared to the amended FY2001 budget.
The presidents of East Mississippi and East Central community colleges have also been working to deal with the loss of money.
In all, "we took about a $1 million cut," said Dr. Tommy Davis, president of East Mississippi Community College. "This is a real concern, and we realize there may be more cuts coming next year.
Dr. Phil Sutphin of East Central Community College reported that his college wasn't cut as much as had been anticipated.
All three leaders admit that more cuts could be coming if the state's economy doesn't pick up. However, all say the Legislature has allowed them a little time to plan for potential cuts.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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