Students, Educators Respond To Proposed N. C. College Funding Cuts

Assistant teachers laid off, part-time professors eliminated and tuition hikes--those are all suggestions made by legislators in the state house committee report, released Tuesday. While this is not the final 2011-2013 state budget-- it does provide some insight on the educational future of our universities, colleges and public schools in the east.

60 percent of our state's budget is education--and with a $2.5 billion dollar shortfall to balance-cuts are inevitable. But for Pitt Community College students, less funds could also eliminate opportunities for students in financial need.

"Financial aid helped propel me through school because I haven't had a job and I'm active in SGA, but besides that I'm really depending on my financial aid to get me through and to pay my cost of college and pay my for my books, because it's very expensive," said Pitt Community College Student Brennon Morton.

"I get financial aid so if they cut the financial aid budget, I'm going to have to try to see how I'm going to school," said Pitt Community College Student Presious Sims.

In a new proposal released Tuesday, a house committee proposed 10% in cuts for community colleges, plus a $10 per credit hour increase in tuition this fall.

"I think for the community colleges, the cut was tough but fair," said Pitt Community College President Dr. Dennis Massey

It's just the beginning of the lengthy process to approve a state budget, but under this proposal, Dr.Dennis Massey says there's one silver lining.

"Our biggest plus this year is the full enrollment growth funding. We did not get that from the governor's budget and we do have it in the plan the house has put forward," said Massey.

It might lessen the blow at the community college level, but for public universities like East
Carolina there could be about 16 % in cuts, but their silver lining, is funding for the dental school.

"All the education sectors are in this together, I know the state will do whatever they can to support the momentum of high quality education and access for our area," said Massey.

There are still several phases to this process, once the house committee budget is approved it will move to the senate for approval. The final phase is the governor's signature. In a statement released by the president of the UNC system, Tom Ross, these cuts totaling nearly $483 million could not be absorbed without inflicting irreparable damage to the state's academic quality and reputation.


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