By all accounts, 2010 was a watershed year for community colleges. President obama touted the role these institutions play in putting americans back to work, and widespread enrollment increases lent credibility to the notion that
students at long last are realizing the benefits of two-year quality and
value compared with the higher price of four-year prestige.
as community college leaders attempt to build on that momentum, one seemingly perpetual challenge stands in the way: funding. the faltering economy hasn’t
Despite universally packed classrooms, the nation’s two-year colleges are bracing
for deep budget cuts this year and next. the nonprofit center on Budget and Policy
Priorities reports that 44 states and the District of columbia are projecting severe
cutbacks totaling more than $125 billion through F.y. 2012, with a significant
chunk likely to come from education.
In texas, Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a budget proposal that would de-fund four
community colleges. though a senate counterproposal would spare those institutions, the debate over where to trim the fat in the lone star state continues.
In california, some $400 million in proposed cuts to community colleges in the
2011–12 budget year have administrators scrambling for support.
the extent of the recession is still unknown, and most state budgets remain in
flux. But one thing is clear: If community college leaders are to secure the funds
necessary to take their institutions to the next level, that money is likely going to
be found somewhere other than state and federal coffers.
that’s where identifying new revenue streams, particularly through fundrais-
ing, can help. While fundraising on community college campuses is nothing new,
experts say larger campaigns—from estate planning to business partnerships to
alumni donations—were for a long time the provenance of four-year institutions.
Florida’s Valencia community college (Vcc) serves more than 64,000 students
across four campuses and another four sites in and around orlando. Demand for its
42 associate and 103 as and aas programs is huge; in one county within Vcc’s ser-
vice area, 29 percent of all college-going high school graduates head for community
college ( 19 percent go to a four-year university); in another, 32 percent attend Vcc,
while just 14 percent head straight for a four-year degree program. the college’s
Directconnect program guarantees
graduating students junior seats at
the university of central Florida and
currently enrolls 44,000 students.
the need for financial assistance
among students, many hard hit by the
down economy, has never been higher.
“last year, Valencia awarded more than
$156 million in public financial aid,”
says Geraldine Gallagher, president
and cEo of the Valencia community
college Foundation, Inc. “our disburse-
ments have tripled in just a few years,
which is a product of family financial
challenges, expanded federal aid
options, and the college’s ambitious
effort to increase accessibility and
affordability through title IV,” she
the changed fiscal landscape has
drastically altered how Vcc generates
revenue. consider this: In 2000–01, 60
percent of the college’s operating rev-
enue was state-funded, and 35 percent
came from students. Fast forward to
2009–10. last year, the state provided
just 40 percent of the growing institu-
tion’s operating revenue; students were
responsible for 55 percent. to offset the
pain of potential price hikes to stu-
dents and families, the college lowered
its average per-pupil spending. It also
improved its fundraising.