CCC&TI enrollment drop could affect funding

Jan. 16, 2014 @ 06:14 AM

Spring-semester enrollment at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute remains down from last year, prompting concerns about a potential budget cut in 2014-15.

Currently, curriculum enrollment – a figure that does not include students in adult- or continuing-education courses – is 496 students lower than in spring 2013, for a total of 3,678 students enrolled. The college will continue to enroll students in four- and eight-week "mini-mester" courses throughout the spring. The college doesn't expect a dramatic increase in numbers from those courses, Public Information Officer Edward Terry said.

The college’s state funding is based in part on the number of students enrolled, so it could see a significant budget reduction, executive vice president Mark Poarch told the board of trustees on Wednesday. College employees have been informed, he said.

“We are having discussions about how do we deal with $1.2 million less in 2014-15 than we have now?” he said.

Enrollment is dropping across the N.C. Community College System, Poarch said. He attributed that to a variety of factors, mostly relating to the region’s changing economy and demographics. Some unemployed people had been going back to school, but some now are going back to work, he said, or their unemployment benefits have run out and they may not be able to afford tuition. In some areas, he said, fewer students are graduating from high school than before.

“I don’t think it’s anything that we’re not doing,” Poarch said. “I think it’s just the nature of the economy.”

CCC&TI’s enrollment also dropped in fall 2013 compared to fall 2012, and in spring 2013 compared to spring 2012. The college’s enrollment hit a record high in spring 2010, with 4,785 curriculum students enrolled. Caldwell County also had an unemployment rate of 17 percent in February 2010, compared to 7.5 percent last November, the most recent figure available.