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Greenfield Community College

GCC in line to get slight increase in state funding

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College is in line to see an increase of $310,000 to $450,000 in state funding this year, which may be enough to convince trustees to again freeze student fees.

President Robert Pura said fee hikes will come up in budget discussions with his staff and the board of trustees, but he’d prefer not to increase them.

The state funding generally makes up between 40 and 50 percent of the college’s revenue. GCC is planning its budget around last year’s $9.7 million allocation, said Pura.

Academic expenses are generally included in the base budget, with things like additional technology investments saved for additional state funding, he said.

The Legislature is still in the early stages of planning its budget, but the House Ways and Means Committee allocated just over $10 million toward the college earlier this month. Pura is hoping to also see more money for the state’s dual enrollment program — where high school students finish their degrees on college campuses — and for financial aid.

The state’s 15 community colleges are in line to receive a total of $13 million in increases this year, compared to a $20 million bump last year.

That additional pot of money, whether it remains $13 million or is increased to $20 million again, is split up among the schools based on a funding formula that Pura and other college presidents designed last year. The formula takes into account operational costs and students’ academic performance.

Other colleges will watch this level of increase closely because the difference between $13 million and $20 million could mean up to $1 million extra for some schools. It’s much lower at GCC: there’s only about $140,000 of extra money at stake.

Katy Abel, a spokeswoman from the state’s department of higher education, said the state will use the formula this year but review it the following year. She also acknowledged that college presidents, who pledged last year to not increase fees if they received enough funding, have not made a similar promise this year.

The House finishes its budget proposal this month and the Senate takes it up in May. Then, a conference committee from both houses meets to reconcile differences and sends a budget proposal to Gov. Deval Patrick.

GCC froze fees last year after increasing them by $10 per credit in 2012. The college received $7.8 million from the state that year.

That fee hike meant that students were paying $170.50 per credit. College officials said at the time that it would bring in about $200,000 in additional revenue.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com, 413-772-0261, ext. 264 or @RecorderShores

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