SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Enrollment at community colleges is down nationwide and Onondaga Community College is not exempt.

With more staff than OCC needs for its student body, the board has voted to approve a voluntary retirement incentive package. In it is $75,000 and post-retirement health insurance coverage.

OCC President Warren Hilton said there are 51 faculty eligible. While they don’t have a target number in mind, if 15 people decide to take it, the savings would be significant.

“We will in our next budget year alone have 1.5 to 1.7 million dollars in savings and that’s an annual savings,” Hilton said. So that will be compounded over the years.”

Hilton said their annual budget is $62.5 million and a majority of that – about 82-percent goes to personnel costs. So how can the college afford to offer this incentive?

“We were able to put money in cash reserves, largely due to the stimulus money from the federal government. This is perfect timing to offer an incentive like this because it’s not burdening our local taxpayers,” Hilton explained.

He and the board believes students will benefit the most.

“The savings will allow us to say to our students, ‘hey there’s going to be more help in the learning center for tutoring, there’s going to be more people here to help you navigate and be successful,'” Hilton added.

He is hopeful for the future.

“Definitely want to see more students persist and graduate, be gainfully employed and high paying careers,” Hilton said. “Careers like at Micron.”

This isn’t the first time a retirement incentive has been offered. The school did it back in 2020, with $10,000 on the table, but it was not a success. This time around, eligible faculty have until April 14 to decide. And if they decide before, they have seven days to change their mind.