LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) _ South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette is making room for more students with construction of a $17.1 million health and sciences building slated to begin this summer.

The three-story, 63,000-square foot building with instructional capacity for 1,000 students will be anchored by the school’s registered nursing program. The building’s amenities will include a 250-person-capacity auditorium, conference rooms and classrooms, a virtual hospital, and several labs.

The Advocate reports ( that the college announced on Monday it has raised $2.1 million for the $17.1 million project.

Spokeswoman for the school, Christine Payton, said a $20,000 donation from COX Communications closed the gap, allowing the project to move forward after about a year of fundraising.

The remaining amount for the building is funded by a 2013 legislative act devoting $250 million to construction projects within the Louisiana Community and Technical College System _ with the stipulation the schools raise part of the money on their own.

The Lafayette Parish School System topped the donor list with a $1 million contribution. Other donors include: Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, Lafayette Economic Development Authority, MidSouth Bank, Sleep Management, and Whitney Bank.

According to Payton, the next step in the project is to begin a fundraising campaign to name the building and secure funding for technology upgrades, equipment, maintenance, and endowed professors and scholarships.

The building space will allow the school to quadruple admissions to their dual-enrollment academy for high school students. It currently has 250 students.

“Each graduating class saves Lafayette families more than $1.6 million in tuition and fees, plus they are ready for the workforce two years earlier,” said the college’s chancellor, Natalie Harder.

The building is expected to be in operation by the fall 2016 semester.