Student enrollment at GCC is lower this semester than it has been in five years, a crisis that may lead to “canceled classes, lost revenue… and possible program eliminations,” according to Steve White, Glendale College’s vice president of instructional services.
The college receives its revenue from dollars allocated by the state. The distribution of those dollars is dependant on the FTES (full-time equivalent student) population.
Although GCC Dean of Admissions and Records Sharon Combs has said, “A reduction in head count does not necessarily equate to a reduction in FTES,” less students often does mean less money to support a school’s educational programs.
From statistical information provided by Edward Karpp, director of institutional research at GCC, a trend can be seen. Karpp’s study shows that the number of credit students for this semester is 4 percent lower than in spring 2004, which was 8 percent lower than in spring 2003. This decline has become a vital issue as classes are dropped from the curriculum.
Nearly 50 classes have been cancelled due to low enrollment. “Low enrollment is largely due to the nearly 127 percent increase in tuition over the past two years,” said White.
Karpp’s research supports this suggestion, showing a coincidence between lower registration and a per-unit fee increase, from $5 to $10, which took effect in the 1999-2000 school year. This feature is visibly mimicked by a drop in student numbers directly following another rise in tuition from $11 to $18 in 2003.
However, the 1999-2000 situation preceded a period of general stability, where GCC was able to recover some of its numbers. The 2003 increase has been followed by yet another increase, this time from $18 to $26.
Many students refraining from enrollment due to the fee increases do not have to do so. The Financial Aid Office could likely help those students to obtain money needed for enrollment.
According to Karpp, “many students are eligible for Board of Governors enrollment fee waivers and other financial aid to offset the fee increase.”
Also, White points out that “over 1,000 of our students who would qualify for [financial aid] fail to apply each term.”
Not all students cite expenses as a reason for not enrolling. Part-time student Kathleen Moran, 24, chose to take the semester off. “All the classes I need get filled up before I even get a chance to register,” said Moran. This is a common dilemma for students, and could take part in GCC’s drop in numbers.
Still, “open seats are available in virtually every discipline offered at the college,” said White. This means students who have declined to register under the assumption that they would not get the classes they needed, actually would have been able to take those classes.
While there are many other reasons for this situation; fee-increases and the belief that there are few available classes are two key factors contributing to the problem.
But as Karpp put it “there are classes available and … GCC is an affordable option for [students and potential students] to continue their education.”