Community colleges in North Carolina might see 50 percent reduction in lottery funding for student scholarships

Danville Register & Bee
Community colleges are poised to get hit with a 50 percent reduction of need-based scholarship funding if the latest amendment passed by the state House holds up in the Senate.

North Carolina legislators are looking for places to cut across the board to reach a balanced end, according to Sen. Phil Berger, Senate president pro-tem. He said the scholarship situation occurred as a result of an amendment offered on the House floor to provide money for one place, but ended up taking it from somewhere else.

“I think what we’ll do on the Senate side is try to get that money restored, and we’re working on how to do that,” he said. “Unlike the folks at the federal level, we can’t print money or anything like that, so we’re definitely going to have to cut a number of places, and the question is going to be how much.”

The cut approved recently by the House eliminated the educational lottery scholarship funding line item for needy two- and four-year college students and transferred that funding to K-12 schools. According to information provided by Rockingham Community College, community colleges have a state contractual grant program which funded $14.7 million of scholarship funds and the educational lottery provided another $15 million in 2009-2010.

Rockingham Community College president Dr. Michael Helmick said RCC officials have been getting regular updates from the North Carolina Community College System office about how House Bill 200 will affect community colleges. He said he didn’t think legislators realized what would happen when they decided on the change.

“My hope is that they’ll realize the impact it would have directly on community college students and reverse this decision,” Helmick said. “The impact here is pretty significant – we have 194 students who would be impacted on our campus by being unable to receive the lottery scholarship money. I understand the budget is tight, but we’re already absorbing a fair amount of costs, and our students are bearing more of an obligation from that.”
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