Last year, Salt Lake Community College’s budget awarded by the state was cut 17 percent. However, SLCC was also given a one-time federal stimulus fund of eight percent, which, as Mason Bishop, VP of Institutional Advancement, noted could have made cuts 22 percent.
This last fall, an additional 4,000 students was added, making SLCC the fourth largest community college in the nation and the largest college in the state. That “backfill” federal stimulus was utilized to accommodate the influx of incoming students. 214 adjunct instructors were hired and 700 additional sections of courses were provided.
The 2010 Appropriated Budget from the State of Utah awarded 12 percent to higher education. Of that 12 percent, SLCC was given 8.3 percent with Weber at 8.5 percent and UVU 8.1 percent. The U and Utah State were awarded the most at 31.4 percent and 19.2 percent.
The General Operating Budget, the primary budget for the college, is resourced largely by the state and tuition/ student fees. That budget’s sources run at about a 60-40 percent split with State Tax Funds covering 58.5 percent and tuition and fees covering 41.2 percent. Meaning, students pay for 40 percent of their education. As Bishop said, there’s a growing trend currently. Before, the split for State Funds and tuition was roughly 75-25 percent. However, more and more people are getting the opportunity to enter into higher education, something SLCC has embraced and utilized greatly.
However, with the cuts, SLCC may face the closure of possibly three to five programs. Because of the dramatic rise in students, a “soft” enrollment cap may be used as a result of sections being full and not enough resources being available. The Sandy Campus will be closing soon. While the tuition is 133 percent of surrounding states, SLCC may still be forced to raise tuition levels even more. Class sizes may also increase from the current average of 25 students, leading to a possible drop in instructional quality. For the 2009-10 year, the number of funded students with 15 hours or more is 15,322. The actual number enrolled is estimated at 18,334. That gap means tuition will have to go up to cover the number of students who are actually enrolled. Tuition this year was raised six percent. Many other schools reached eight to ten percent.
SLCC serves as gatekeeper to other universities and careers. Many students attend one of the 14 campuses offered to satisfy their general studies requirements. To provide the growing number of general education students with more classrooms and programs, a new building will be built on the former Auto Trades building at the Redwood Campus. All programs from this building will be moved to the South City Campus for 2010. The Jay L. Nelson building is scheduled to be demolished and 16 portable classrooms removed.
The new building’s preliminary cost is estimated at $29,942,944. The total project space will cover 136,000 square feet, replacing 122,000. 104,000 square feet of the total space will consist of 56 learning spaces, classrooms, labs and study space will be built. 32,000 square feet will consist of 40 faculty offices, replacement of student support and administrative space.
Though cuts have been made, SLCC faculty and staff are working to most effectively utilize money to continue to accommodate the students. A ‘vast majority” of any money awarded to the school, through state taxes, student fees, tuition, donations goes directly toward benefitting the students. Already making news for its dramatic surge of new students, SLCC remains open to students and full of opportunity, even in the face of it current and future struggles.