Twenty-three student council members representing all three Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College campuses heard the bad news from President Willis Lott. He told them already this year, the college budget has been cut $2.4 million. And they're expecting a cut of about $3.8 million for next year.
"$3.8 and $2.4 adds up to $6.2 million of cuts in 2 years from the state. That's over 25 percent of our budget."
But Lott says because the legislature has until April to finalize the budget, it's too early to say what actions the college will take to deal with the cuts.
"There may be some programs that have to be eliminated," Lott said. "We haven't made any of those decisions, but we're looking at everything inside the college."
Students also wanted to know if leaders were considering cutting sports and other activities. Lott said no. But, he did say some scholarships could be cut and some classes eliminated.
One of the biggest questions, though, was about tuition increases. Lott couldn't say how much tuition could increase, but he did say it was likely to happen.
"I didn't know anything about this beforehand, so it brought some insight to me," said Quoc Ho, a freshman at the Jefferson Davis campus.
And because cuts will affect Mississippi universities as well as community colleges, students didn't seem to think Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College would be hurt significantly.
"I know I'll make it," said Avia Bailey, a freshman at the Jackson County campus. "This is a great college. This is a great school, teachers are wonderful."
"I think everything's going to be all right," said Tara Smiedala, a Perkinston sophomore. "Once everybody gets over the initial shock of the increase because whenever anybody hears an increase, everybody kinda gets weirded out about it."
Final decisions about what to cut won't be made until May. That's when the Board of Trustees will approve the college budget.
By Amanda Jones