PRCC loses funding, increases budget and tuition

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 16, 2017

Pearl River Community College is increasing its annual budget to $37.2 million, despite a $1.6 million decrease in state funding.
The PRCC Board of Trustees approved the budget earlier this week, according to a release from the college.
Revenue to support that budget will come, in part, from a $200, or about 12 percent, tuition increase for full-time students.
Tuition at PRCC will now be $1,625 for full time students or $140/hour, up from $125, for part time students, the release states.
“Obviously we had to increase tuition, but it’s always the last place we want to go,” PRCC President-elect Dr. Adam Breerwood said.
Despite the increased budget, Breerwood said, “There’s nothing else that we can do additionally. For the most part, it’s everything to do with the cost of operations.”
The budget increase mainly stems from rising utility and insurance costs he said.
“Just the regular cost of living adjustment is on the rise,” Breerwood said.
He also said the college has reduced some private contracts from 12 to nine months and cut about seven unfilled positions.
Statewide, almost 250 positions have been cut from the 15 community colleges while tuition has increased by an average of 13 percent, putting the average tuition at $3,104 in Mississippi, according to the Associated Press.
Instead of filling the vacant positions, Breerwood said the college is asking staff to do more with less.
Yet, that can only continue for so long, he said, before the quality of the program is put at risk.
An additional $174,208 from PRCC’s six-county district will also be added to this year’s revenue, the release states.
Breerwood said the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors increased its yearly donation.
Breerwood said the college plans to move forward as efficiently as possible, but hopes any potential mid-year cuts won’t affect programs offered to the students.
If mid-year cuts do occur, each program’s participation rate will become a major factor in whether it stays, he said.
Yet some programs often fluctuate depending on market needs, Breerwood said; some years certain programs are extremely popular, but sparse the next.
The cuts from state legislators are hurting the investment of community college educations, Breerwood said.
He said 96 percent of the PRCC student body is comprised of Mississippi natives, while other state universities are almost 50 percent out-of-state students.
Breerwood said funding the community college system is a return on the state’s investment that generates over four times what it puts in to the tax base by preparing the workforce.
The cuts are a long-term concern, he said, especially for low-income students who could lose their opportunity to earn a college degree.
“I think we’re going to lose some [students], the difference in 3 or 400 dollars a year is a lot for students,” Breerwood said.
Though the college tries to help its students through institutional scholarships, Breerwood said that can only continue for so long without cutting off the revenue stream.
“It’s devastating to us,” he said, emphasizing the college’s initiative to provide educational opportunities to all people.
“We need to have funding to complete our mission,” Breerwood said.
Registration at all PRCC campuses for the fall semester begins August 10. Classes start August 14.

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About Julia Arenstam

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