Keshia Clukey

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Funding cuts hit colleges

Posted by keshiaclukey on May 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Funding cuts hit colleges

Work study programs, financial aid to be affected

BY KESHIA CLUKEY

[email protected]

Utica College sophomore Chris Murphy relies on his work study job to make ends meet.

The 20-year-old Utican and history major does clerical work for the college's Office of Corporate and Professional Programs three hours every day, making $7.25 an hour.

"It's pretty much my main source of income," Murphy said.

It's more flexible than a regular part-time job, he said. He doesn't have to leave the campus and sometimes is able to do homework if his other duties are complete.

"It's more geared toward academics," he said.

Unfortunately, the work study program will face cuts soon - a victim of forced federal spending cuts, known as sequestration.

Local colleges and universities are trying to absorb the federal cuts for the 2013-14 school year while dealing with already rising costs and maintaining enrollment as the number of traditional college-age students decreases across Upstate New York.

The cuts now in effect after President Barack Obama and Congress failed to reach an agreement by March 1, will continue if a consensus is not met.

Sequestration reductions for the 2013-14 school year include:

* A decrease in research grants to colleges.

* Increases of about 0.05 percent in borrowing costs for Direct Loans, and 0.20 percent for Direct PLUS loans.

* A 5.52 percent decrease in funding to the Federal Work-Study and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant programs - both part of students' financial aid packages.

"Cuts to the student aid programs … are affecting how our campuses put together financial aid packages for the prospective students and returning students who will be on campus this fall," Laura Anglin, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, said in a statement. "It is critical funding that can make the difference in a student continuing to enroll from one semester to the next and persisting to graduation."

Locally, the cuts are relatively minimal; however, the full effects are yet to be seen.

SUNYIT, for example, would lose an estimated $2,358 in Opportunity Grants and no Federal Work-Study money, based on an estimated 5.1 percent cut, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Updated numbers were not available.

"The eventual effects that we could see would be felt primarily through our relationships with agencies and organizations who are direct recipients of federal funding," said SUNYIT Spokesman John Swann. "Federal research funding, we understand, would be affected, and it remains to be seen what would happen as a result."

Herkimer Community College's situation is far worse: It is expecting an 8 percent, or about $24,000, reduction in Perkins Act grant funding, which helps provide vocational-technical education programs and services, Public Relations Director Rebecca Ruffing said in an email.

"Since career and technical programs generally are higher cost programs that teach skills that employers need, every dollar is needed to support them," she said.

The college's operating budget for 2012-13 is about $25.3 million.

The college also faces financial aid cuts estimated to be about $13,360 between opportunity and work-study programs, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Reductions in the opportunity grants effect students with the highest financial need, Ruffing said. Decreases in work-study funding mean fewer opportunities for the students and fewer part-time workers for the college to rely on, she said.

Utica College is in a similar situation, losing an estimated $24,888 in opportunity and work-study funding, said Tammy Raub, college vice president for financial affairs.

To hold the line, the college is working with departments on voluntary cost-cutting measures.

"We're not laying people off. We're just looking at the way we do things and trying to hold costs as much as possible," she said.

As for work study, for which the college will receive $299,683, a $17,277 decrease over the current year, Utica College will try to make up the difference, Raub said. The college's expected 2013-14 budget is $67 million, though it has yet to be voted on.

"We know what a student's expected family contribution would be and we're going to try to make up what they can't be expected to pay," Raub said about the cuts.

"We definitely have a very, very tight budget," she said. "While this isn't a huge piece of our budget, it add ups."

Proposed cuts

Opportunity Grants

School Tentative allocation Post-sequester allocation Estimated reduction

Colgate University $270,925 $270,925 $0

Hamilton College $142,543 $136,170 -$6,373

Herkimer Community $82,028 $74,716 $7,312

Morrisville State $96,851 $91,047 $5,804

St. Elizabeth School of Nursing $14,993 $13,795 $1,198

SUNYIT $40,492 $38,134 $2,358

Utica College $192,481 $185,600 $6,881

Utica School of Commerce $51,478 $51,478 $0

Federal Work-Study

School Tentative allocation Post-sequester allocation Estimated reduction

Colgate University $271,059 $271,059 $0

Hamilton College $223,829 $223,820 $0

Herkimer Community $84,543 $78,495 $6,048

Morrisville State $103,781 $103,781 $0

St. Elizabeth School of Nursing $15,356 $14,157 $1,199

SUNYIT $149,680 $149,680 $0

Utica College $316,960 $301,491 $15,469

Utica School of Commerce $0 $0 $0

Note: These figures are based on an estimated 5.1 percent cut; the actual cuts will be 5.52 percent, however updated numbers were not available.

Source: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators


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