Even With Funds Flowing, Community Colleges Are Reeling From Budget Impasse

Jan 14, 2016


Automotive service technology students work on a car at the Community College of Philadelphia.
Credit Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

Loan payments and credit downgrades mean that the state's community colleges won't recover right away.

Some of the upsides of a community college — lower tuition, shorter programs, local funding contributions — have quickly become challenges during the budget impasse. Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges have been hurt by the six month delay, and may continue to feel the pinch even though state funds have been released.

Jim Hrabosky has been the vice president for administration and finance at Butler County Community College (BCCC) for 10 years now. He says this has been the most stressful year on the job.

"I'm not used to checking our bank account daily," said Hrabosky. "But everyday, I was checking that number and watching it get lower and lower."

Community colleges are funded by student tuition, state funds and a local partner — in this case, Butler County.

The school was able to make it through most of the fall semester without the expected $8 million in state funding. But then, thanks to the budget delay, Butler County pushed its quarterly payment to the school from December to January. Tuition money wouldn't arrive until the new semester started in January, as well.

The school didn't have the funds to make it through the end of 2015.

"We essentially needed 30 days of cash to get through the month of December," said Hrabosky.

Read more of this report on the site of our partner, Keystone Crossroads