Shrinking Budgets have been the topic of many conversations in the past year and it’s no surprise that money woes are at the forefront of the minds of two local public colleges. Although Georgia Highlands College has experienced growth in the past 10 years with 5,219 students enrolled in the fall of the 2009-2010 year, they are still struggling to find ways to keep their doors open. Unfortunately, the economic recession has lead to a steady decline in state funding for the public college. In 2010, the state gave the college the equivalent of $2,782 per student. This figure is compared to Georgia’s contribution of $4,828 per student in 2001. GHC President Randy Pierce said, “I think it’s made us look at our processes and do things better. And that’s not all bad.” Highlands has already cut jobs, both academic and administrative, and furlough days have been used this year. Every faculty and staff member of the college took six unpaid days during the school year, which Pierce said basically equals a 3 percent pay cut for employee who haven’t had raises in years.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College has also felt the blow of the economic slump. They began this academic year with almost $3 million less from state revenue than the two colleges that joined to form GNTC had three years ago. That was before another $2.7 million was cut from the state money. Fortunately for the college, that money was replaced by funds from the stimulus package created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “That’s a good thing because we haven’t had to put people on the street this year. We haven’t had to lay off employees,” said GNTC President Craig McDaniel. “It’s a bad thing because in 2012 that stimulus money goes away. We’re going to be looking at a cut in personnel money of $2.77 million.” Every employee of GNTC took seven furlough days for the academic year, which resulted in about $95,000 worth of savings per day. McDaniel said when the college takes a furlough day the entire college shuts down, and the days are planned in such a way as to not affect students. McDaniel stated that he expects a $5 per credit hour tuition increase next year, which would result in an extra $1.5 million from the college’s approximately 6,000 students.

Information from this article courtsey of Rome News Tribune