After years of rapidly rising demand, community colleges are projecting flat enrollments for the fall, reports Community College Times. “On average, a range of decreases from 5 percent to increases of about 5 percent” is likely.
Michigan’s Washtenaw Community College predicts a decline of up to 9 percent, while Grand Rapids Community College is seeing a 1.8 percent drop. Both lost students when the state’s No Worker Left Behind program, which paid for two years of college for laid-off workers, expired.
Population changes are affecting enrollment: In 27 states, mostly in the North, the number of high school graduates is declining.
California community colleges don’t have funding to provide classes for students.
San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) in California has no shortage of people who want to take classes, yet enrollment is down 14 percent from last year. That’s because the state mandates how many full-time equivalent students it will fund, and this year that number was cut. If the college admits more than that cut-off number, it assumes the costs, which SBVC can’t afford, according to President Debra Daniels.
Many of the classrooms have lines out the door of people just hoping that they can take the seat of someone who may not show up for class.
“It breaks my heart,” Daniels said. “People want in and they can’t get in.”
Community college leaders in California are now concerned about possible mid-year cuts by the state, which would prompt them to turn away more students, cut programs, or reduce classes or student services.
Elsewhere, some community colleges report the same number of students are taking fewer credit hours. Some are working several part-time jobs, while others can’t afford full-time tuition.
Other community colleges are growing at much slower rates: Indiana’s Ivy Tech grew by 73 percent over seven years; this year, enrollment is up by 2 percent.