Dear City Colleges Community:
Our proposed FY21 budget reflects a year ahead impacted by COVID-19, and prioritizes our commitment to offering Chicagoans a quality, affordable education in a healthy and safe environment.
The budget accounts for adjustments made in the 2020-21 academic year as a result of COVID-19. To protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, most City Colleges credit classes will be offered remotely or online this fall, and adult education classes (GED and ESL) will be offered via distance learning. A limited number of classes will be offered either fully face-to-face or as blended face-to-face and remote classes, when hands on experiences are essential to meeting course requirements or when student learning and retention can benefit. In all cases, face-to-face instruction will be undertaken only as public health conditions allow and with social distancing in place. Student services will be delivered both remotely and in-person, and our colleges will be open as study centers with proper protections in place. City Colleges will also continue to support our students with a host of resources – from scholarships and grants, technology, and changes in our facilities to reflect social distancing safety measures.
The FY21 budget enables us to support teaching and learning during COVID-19, while continuing to make strategic investments, including:
• A commitment to educational quality, including timely development of innovative programs such as cybersecurity, cannabis operations and contact tracing;
• Maintaining a robust suite of student academic and related supports from wellness centers and tutoring to a new coaching advising model and disability access centers, to name a few;
• Holding our credit hour rate of $146 level for the fifth straight year, recognizing the economic strain of the pandemic, and increasing marketing to attract a diverse student body in the unprecedented COVID-19 environment; and
• Scholarships and grants, including the Star Scholarship, early college dual enrollment and dual credit programs, and $2 million raised for Chancellor retention grants.
Our budget responds to the dynamic circumstances and focuses on our core academic mission while we continue to recover from years of state disinvestment and declining enrollment trends.
The proposed FY21 budget is balanced. The unrestricted and enterprise operating budget of $306.7 million represents a 3% decrease from the prior fiscal year, and plans for a 3% decline in enrollment year to year (FY20 to FY21).
We are fortunate to begin a new fiscal year with a state budget, providing stability that is critical to City Colleges’ long-term recovery efforts. At the same time, we continue to call on the state to achieve funding parity for community colleges with Illinois’ public four-year universities.
To balance the FY21 budget and continue our long-term recovery strategy, City Colleges relies on taxing to our levy cap, budgeting for Tax Increment Financing surplus proceeds from the City of Chicago, removing the 12-hour tuition cap, identifying cost efficiencies, and closing vacant positions. We will continue to work to boost enrollment and retention, aggressively manage bad student debt which was reduced by $4 million from FY20, actively manage staff hiring and turnover, and grow institutional advancement.
This budget also reflects two decisions this fiscal year that respond to the realities of COVID-19:
Out of an abundance of caution and concern for student safety, City Colleges will suspend athletics programs and swimming during the 2020-2021 academic year. Tuition waivers will still be honored for returning student athletes in good standing and new student athletes who signed a Letter of Intent.
Furthermore, given the prioritization of remote and online learning for the upcoming academic year, City Colleges will eliminate the CTA U-Pass program in the FY21 year.
The proposed FY21 budget reflects our commitment to our communities’ well-being, our focus on delivering a quality education despite unprecedented circumstances, and our responsibility to Chicago taxpayers. It will be considered by City Colleges’ Board of Trustees at its August meeting. A public budget hearing is scheduled for July 7th to be held remotely due to COVID-19. The tentative budget document and the hearing can be found online on the CCC website at www.ccc.edu/finance.
We look forward to your feedback as we work together to ensure City Colleges continues to put our students on the path to upward mobility and helps build a more inclusive Chicago economy.
City Colleges of Chicago