Updated enrollment figures for Gila Community College show the previously reported hemorrhage was actually a large leak.
The college saw a 9 percent decline in full-time student enrollment this spring compared to last spring, down from the 26 percent drop reported in February for the same period. However, total enrollment still fell 20 percent, which improved from the 29 percent reported in the preliminary figures.
The first enrollment figures inspired a great deal of angst among board members, who didn’t appear to know the numbers were preliminary.
“I’m extremely upset about the whole situation,” said board chairman Bob Ashford at the time.
Other numbers recently released by Eastern Arizona College predict GCC will have regained its lost enrollment by 2012, if GCC reinstates the senior waivers, among other factors.
The February figures were preliminary, pre-45th day figures, according to EAC Director of Institutional Research Glen Snider. Enrollment after the 45th day is considered official for community colleges.
“As the expression goes, ‘It ain’t over ’til the 45th day fat-lady sings!’” wrote Snider in an e-mail. He said the numbers often change after the college inputs 45th day student grade rolls.
GCC board member Tom Loeffler unsuccessfully asked to place the updated figures on the most recent meeting agenda.
“I still think the 20 percent should give us pause to find out what we can do to enable more of our citizens to attend school — and that may be scholarships or modifying the tuition schedule,” said Loeffler.
Community college funding is based on the equivalent of full-time students, which represents the number of credits taken instead of the number of students enrolled.
Declining enrollment in Globe accounted for most of the drop. Globe’s total enrollment dropped by 26 percent to 1,208 while the full-time equivalent count dropped 15 percent to 442.
The Payson campus lost 12 percent of its total enrollment, to 1,043, while the full-time equivalency dropped just 3 percent, down to 368.
All campuses lost students except for San Carlos, which gained 46 students for a total head count of 249.
All told, GCC has the equivalent of 926 full-time students this semester, down from 1,015 last spring. The drop comes after GCC raised tuition by 30 percent and rolled back waivers for senior citizens.
The numbers improved markedly from the preliminary figures released earlier, which reported a full-time enrollment this spring of roughly 750 students.
GCC’s enrollment peaked in 2009, but will slowly recover over the next two years, according to calculations from EAC, which included actual enrollment from 2006 through 2009 and projections for 2010 through 2012.
The numbers are dependent on upgrading facilities to accommodate more students, and reinstating the senior tuition waivers.
GCC formed after the state passed tax base and population thresholds for counties wanting to operate community colleges. Gila County doesn’t meet these thresholds, and so it runs as a provisional district. GCC contracts with EAC for administrative and academic services.