Rogue Community College plans to raise tuition by 5 percent and cut 20 positions to lessen the impact of a projected $5.2 million shortfall in its upcoming biennial budget.

RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle declined to disclose the departments that will be affected by the cuts, other than to say that RCC will be looking at programs that have low enrollment. Kemper-Pelle said she would be able to discuss the specific programs after staff has been brought up to speed in coming days.

"It's not fair to hear in the news what departments will be affected," she said.

The nursing program and popular health care programs will not be cut, Kemper-Pelle said. Some of the positions that will be cut are currently unfilled or are being held by employees who are retiring, Kemper-Pelle said.

"We will try to move as many people as we can into positions that are vacant," she said.

Students will see tuition rise from $99 per credit hour to $104. A student taking an average of 13 credits each quarter will pay an extra $65, for a total of $1,352.

Revenue at RCC is projected to increase by $670,000 as a result of the tuition increase, partially offsetting the shortfall. Fees will not be increased.

RCC has 973 full-time, part-time and student workers, with a full-time equivalent of 300 personnel. In 2016-17, RCC has had 16,420 full- and part-time students.

RCC's projected shortfall is based on Gov. Kate Brown's proposed $550 million 2017-2019 budget for community colleges, which matches the current biennial budget. Brown's budget proposal will likely be adjusted by the Legislature, but with a state shortfall of about $1.6 billion, any significant increase could be difficult to pull off.

For community colleges to maintain existing service levels, they would need $634 million, according to Kemper-Pelle. For RCC, it would need to have a budget of $45 million to maintain programs. The current budget is $39.6 million, with $21 million of that going to personnel.

"This is probably the leanest college I've worked at for personnel costs," Kemper-Pelle said.

Depending on the how the budget is hammered out in Salem, Kemper-Pelle said, RCC may have to consider other options if the shortfall increases.

Kemper-Pelle said the cuts come at a difficult time, with student enrollment increasing by 5 percent last fall.

"We're the only college that had a significant rise in fall enrollments," Kemper-Pelle said.

However, the state allocates its dollars based on previous enrollment levels, she said. 

Kemper-Pelle said that her school will absorb some of the cuts by dipping into a strategic reserve that is currently at $3 million. The reserve was set up to help offset increases in the Public Employees Retirement System, known as PERS.

— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.