Long Island’s community colleges in critical condition: | Long Island Business News

For community colleges in LI, severe challenges lie ahead

Long Island Business News

New leaders at community colleges on Long Island are developing strategies to transform low enrollment rates and attract more students by freezing tuition and reaching non-traditional learners.

The challenges are acute: they include strained budgets, a falling high school-age population on Long Island, and dramatic changes in how students receive an education, which seem to be here to stay, driven by the pandemic.

Both Nassau and Suffolk community colleges are approaching hurdles with new leadership. In May, Nassau Community College appointed Maria Konzatti as interim president, while at the Suffolk County Community College, President Edward Ponahue took office last June.

"As the number of high school students is declining, we know that Suffolk's future lies in attracting non-traditional students," Bonahu said. This is our path to future growth."

According to US Census estimates, the number of Long Island residents aged 15 to 19 decreased by 9.2% from 2010 to 2020.

At NCC, Konzati spoke about recognizing the changing ways in which students receive education, and adapt. "It's about flexibility, to allow students to take in programming when they want and how they want to," she said.

Community colleges have traditionally attracted a diverse student body and served as a gateway to higher education for low-income students.

Tuition has been frozen at both schools, for the third year in Suffolk and the second in Nassau. The full-time tuition fee for one-semester residents at SCCC is $2,735 plus fees. At NCC, it's $2,900 plus fees.

But the registration has gone down. In the SCCC from Fall 2011 to Fall 2021, it fell 23%, from 26,789 to 20,570. In the NCC in that time period, it's down 46%, from 23,550 to 12,631.

Institutions are not alone in experiencing registry losses. Statewide, SUNY community colleges saw a 34% drop in enrollment from 2011 to 2021, according to Mark Harris, vice president of finance at SCCC.

Four-year school attendance has also declined in upstate New York, but by a smaller percentage: about 5% over the same decade, according to SUNY data.

While the state budget it approved this spring raised funding to help with scholarships and employment at public universities and colleges, advocates were disappointed that it did not do more for college affordability.

Additionally, county funding was stagnant in Nassau, according to its trustees, while in Suffolk, the county raised its SCCC contribution by 3% for the past school year.

With the new leaders taking charge, assessments are underway on how to retain students and entice new students. who and what will be taught in the future; How will this be taught?
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