Community Colleges battle delayed state payments

By Denise Jackson

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM CDT

CANTON, Ill. -- Illinois community colleges are forging ahead with long range plans despite an ongoing lag in payments from the state.

We are six months into the state's fiscal year and Spoon River College has not received its annual allocation of nearly $2 million from the Illinois Department of Education.

Fortunately the community college, like many others, also gets funding through property tax payments and student tuition.

Spoon River College President Curt Oldfield says even with funding shortfalls they are continuing to try and retain and attract more students.

"We've actually decreased our budget since 2009 in terms of expenditures and so really trying to be more good fiscal stewards and do what we can to reduce those expenses and at the same time look at adding new opportunities to gain more students," he said.

Spoon River recently received $5.8 million to build a multipurpose center.

Unlike Spoon River, Illinois Central College has gotten some of the $3 million it's owed in its first allocation from the state.

Administration and Finance Vice President Bruce Budde says they have taken a long range approach with expenses.

"We look for ways to create costs efficiencies, cost savings, but to look for other alternative resources to help support the college operations," he said.

Despite tuition increases administrators say the costs for attending community colleges remains a selling point, at only about 25 percent the fee of four-year universities.

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