By Paul Bradley
The ambitious community college completion agenda is colliding with harsh reality of shrinking budgets, overcrowded campuses and the absence of a lack of long-term financial plan to boost the number of Americans who hold degrees or certificates.
That’s the conclusion of a survey of state community college directors, which found that nine of ten state community college chiefs say their state has no long-term plan to finance capital or operating budgets tied to the completion agenda.
The survey, conducted by the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama, found that leaders believe deep and continuing budget cuts at public-access colleges at all levels threaten to undermine progress in achieving the completion agenda.
“It seems like it will be almost an impossible task to achieve the completion agenda” in light of a continuing budget crisis, said study co-author Janice N. Friedel of the University of Iowa.
The study, entitled “Challenging Success: Can College Degree Completion Be Increased as States Cut Budgets?” surveyed 51 members of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges. It found:
n Just 4 of 51 respondents indicate a long-term plan exists to fund operating budgets needed to increase numbers of adults with college degrees/certificates.
n Just 3 of 51 indicate a long-term plan exists to fund capital budgets needed to increase numbers of adults with degrees/certificates.
n Capacity is strained in 24 states, which have growing minority populations.
n 39 of 51 disagree their state funding system adequately rewards community college transfer.
n Most (35) said performance funding models are under consideration or implemented.
n By 2:1, graduation rate increases will be difficult to achieve, due to cuts.
n 16 report de facto enrollment caps implemented at community colleges
n 3 of the 5 largest states report their public flagship and regional universities had raised admission standards to limit transfer.
President Obama has called for the United States to regain its now-lost global lead in college completion by 2020, but long term-financial restraints could put that goal out of reach, the report says.
“Not one respondent from the nation’s nine largest states reports a long-term plan exists in their state to finance the operating and capital budgets needed increase the number of adults with degree and certificates,” the survey report says.
Said Steven G. Katsinas, professor and director of the Education Policy Center: “I don’t believe we’ll see a significant increase in completion rates without capital investment.”
The full report can be found here: http://uaedpolicy.weebly.com/