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Local News

Joliet Junior College budget shows how low state funding has gone

JOLIET – The Joliet Junior College budget that goes to the board for a vote this week reflects an ongoing decline in state funding to the point that it has a become a fraction of college revenue.

Since 2000, state revenue for JJC has decreased from 18.7 percent to a projected 5 percent next fiscal year.

Property taxes and tuition, which have been going up, continue to provide the most revenue for the college. The state’s share of the college’s operating budget is at its lowest.

“The college will continue to monitor the status of state funding and make the appropriate adjustments to expenditures to ensure financial stability. Possible adjustments include changes in class sizes, program offerings and staffing levels,” JJC officials stated in comments added to the draft fiscal 2018 budget. 

The board will consider approving the fiscal 2018 budget when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the college’s boardroom, 1215 Houbolt Road. Before approving the budget, the board will consider a motion to suspend the rules temporarily to allow for public comment on it. The draft budget is available on JJC’s website.

The operating budget that begins July 1 is projected to be $91.4 million, a 2.8 percent increase over last year, according to a draft of the plan. The increase is because of tuition and property tax increases offset by a decrease in state revenue.

JJC officials are projecting a 50 percent reduction, or $3.6 million, in state funding for credit hours. 

In response to the uncertainty of state funding, board trustees approved a $19 student tuition increase in March that also includes differential tuition – or an additional tuition rate – charged to classes in certain academic programs. Robert Galick, administrative services vice president, has said $16 of the $19 in the tuition increase is because of the absence of state funding. 

College officials have said the tuition increase would net JJC $4.1 million in new revenue. The new budget reflects the tuition increase that will apply this fall semester. 

No enrollment growth from fiscal 2017 has been factored into the new budget. Because of the economy showing signs of improvement in the past few years, enrollment has dropped from its high in fiscal 2011, according to the draft document.

Community colleges often see increased enrollment during tough economic times, when unemployed workers return to school or people try to upgrade skills for better-paying jobs.

A focus of the fiscal 2018 budget is strengthening and expanding support services with the opening of the JJC Event Center, expansion of the Romeoville campus and meeting Title III grant requirements. 

The cost for new staff at the Event Center, Romeoville campus and for the Title III grant will amount to $384,510 in salaries and fringe benefits. 

JJC President Judy Mitchell also realigned positions for a cost savings of about $400,000, according to the budget. 

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