November 16, 2021
Amid declining enrollment, California’s community colleges should do more to help students in the system stay enrolled once they get there and complete their college goals, faculty and members of the statewide board of governors said Monday.
During a meeting Monday of the board, which oversees California’s 116 colleges, members learned that in addition to enrollment being down dramatically across the colleges, students who do enroll rarely go on to complete a degree or certificate.
Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, president of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, said the enrollment declines currently affecting the system allow the colleges a chance to invest more in students. Because the colleges are not losing funding as a result of enrollment declines, Brill-Wynkoop said it “gives us the opportunity to invest more significantly” in students.
“This is our chance to increase per-student funding for current students and focus on their success,” she added.
The colleges are funded in part based on their enrollment, but because of a protection in the formula that determines how much funding each college gets, those colleges that have lost students are not losing funding.
The so-called hold harmless provision ensures that colleges are funded at least at their 2017-18 levels, plus a cost of living adjustment. Those protections will be in place until at least 2025.
Enrollment across the system’s colleges has plummeted during the pandemic. The system estimates that enrollment declined during the 2020-21 academic year by between 9.6% and 14.8%.
The system has been unable to fully count its enrolled students, especially those who were taking noncredit courses online.