County doesn't like the look of Fashion Institute's chargebacks

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:49

    GOSHEN-A state formula for reimbursing community colleges for out-of-county students unfairly discriminates against Orange County Community College, according to Legislator Jeffrey Berkman of Middletown. While Orange County comes out on the losing end of the formula with community colleges across the state, the most conspicuous disparity is with Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. The system, known as chargebacks, has cost Orange County some $3 million this year. OCCC received about $1 million in chargebacks from other schools, leaving a deficit of $2 million. Payments to FIT came to $360,000 this year. The county has paid more than $1 million to the Fashion Institute of Technology since 2000. The Legislature as a whole showed its agreement with Berkman last Thursday, Sept. 2 by voting unanimously for a resolution asking New York State to pick up 50 percent of the chargebacks from FIT. Berkman noted that the state made this payment to community colleges at one time, but then dropped it. Berkman maintains that the system in general is costly to Orange County, which pays out more for out-of-county tuition than it takes in. This is a function of both the number of students and of the rate charged, which is based on the cost per student at each school. FIT, however, because of its specialized program, has a far higher cost per student than does OCCC - $10,000 to $12,000 for FIT, versus $3,100 paid to OCCC for out-of-county students. The system hits Orange County taxpayers especially hard, as the county pays for the charges to other counties for Orange County students, while the college receives the tuition payments from out-of-county students. This, Berkman says, gives the college little incentive to press for changes in the system. Berkman said his ultimate goal is to change the entire system, which he considers unfair. He's starting with FIT, where the imbalance is greatest and where the state at one time acknowledged the hardship to counties and subsidized the payments. However, he hopes to extend the formula change to all community colleges.