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‘Having adequate resources is critical:’ Indicators impacting financial health at community colleges

A note from us

Nation here! Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58. If you missed last week’s newsletter on a local partnership, you may find it on our website.

Our analysis of the indicators impacting financial health at community colleges is out now… The State Board of Community Colleges heard more about PropelNC… Wilkes Community College has a new president… Durham Tech will partner with Durham Public Schools and Duke Health Systems to launch a new early college focused on students interested in careers in health care… NC Central is the latest HBCU to enter a period of leadership transition…

In fall 2022, EdNC visited all 58 community colleges as part of our Impact58 blitz. A major goal of the blitz was to study the economic impact of our community colleges. As we visited all 58, community college leaders spoke about many factors that contribute to a financially healthy community college, apart from state appropriations.

EdNC identified five indicators that contribute to how well colleges are able to serve their students and communities:

  • Special appropriations in the state budget for individual community colleges. Do colleges have good relationships with their legislative delegation? Does their legislative delegation have influence within the General Assembly? This matters for how colleges can access funds for things like new programs and equipment.
  • County support. The county is responsible for financially supporting the “physical plant” of the college. Varying levels of county wealth, along with college-county relationships, influence how much county support colleges get for new construction and initiatives.
  • The rate of dual enrollment. How are colleges leveraging dual enrollment, along with relationships with their K-12 school district(s)? Dual enrollment has contributed significant FTE for some colleges, particularly in rural counties with declining population trends.
  • Foundations and philanthropic support. Are college foundations successful at raising outside funding? The scale of innovative initiatives at colleges is largely influenced by access to philanthropic support through foundations and grants.
  • Receipts from tuition and fees. All 58 community colleges take in student tuition and fees and those are by law deemed state funds. In 2023-24, 21.5% of the total state budget for community colleges is funded through expected receipts.

In fall 2023, EdNC analyzed systemwide data across the 58 community colleges on the indicators, which is included in the report today. We followed up with about a dozen community college leaders about how these indicators collectively contribute to more financially flexible, stable colleges.

Hannah’s deep dive analyzing the indicators is out now. We welcome feedback!

Last week was a busy one for all of us at EdNC. On Wednesday, our colleague Chantal covered the announcement of a new early college in Durham aimed at students interested in careers in health care. On Thursday, I attended President Joe Biden’s event, where he announced an $82 million investment from the federal government that will expand access to high-speed, affordable internet to over 16,000 homes and businesses.

Hannah and I attended the State Board of Community Colleges meeting on Friday, where we heard a lot more about the proposed new funding model that has been dubbed PropelNC. We will have an article out on our website shortly.

Wilkes Community College also announced a new president last Friday, after the State Board approved the decision:

The Wilkes Community College (WCC) Board of Trustees has appointed a new President. “We did a nationwide search and had 42 applicants for the position,” said WCC Board Chair, Jay Vannoy. “I want to thank all the members of the search committee for their time and hard work in this process. We are excited to announce Dr. Michael Rodgers as the next president of WCC. He has the education, knowledge, and experience to lead our college. We are looking forward to working with him to continue and build upon the work Wilkes Community College is doing to educate and train our students. I also want to thank Morgan Francis for his great leadership as interim president during this transition period.”

Dr. Rodgers will take the helm in early June.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth —

P.S. — FAFSA Day is this Saturday. You can find out more information on your local FAFSA day on CFNC’s website.

EdNC reads

‘Having adequate resources is critical:’ Indicators impacting financial health at community colleges.

As mentioned above, Hannah’s deep dive looking at the indicators of financial health at our community colleges is out now. It is a significant output from EdNC’s 2022 blitz that took us to all 58 community colleges across the state. Here’s an excerpt:

The N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) served nearly 600,000 students last year in all 100 of the state’s counties — rural, urban, small, large, and in-between.

With yearly budgets ranging from $8 million to $326 million, each college sought to achieve the same mission: providing critical education, training, and workforce opportunities to all North Carolina residents.

The system has an “open-door” policy, meaning all students can enroll and study within the system. Community colleges enroll some of the most diverse student populations — high schoolers, adult learners, working parents, first-generation college goers, and more.

“It goes without saying that having adequate resources is critical to serving our students effectively,” NCCCS President Dr. Jeff Cox told EdNC. “We need to look critically at how well all our colleges are funded to meet our students’ needs fully.”

State appropriations make up the majority of community college funding, based largely on enrollment. This year’s state budget allocated nearly $1.9 billion to the NCCCS in 2023-24 — with nearly $1.5 billion in state appropriations, and more than $400 million in receipts. However, the reality of financial health at our community colleges is much more complex.

During EdNC’s Impact58 tour, EdNC identified five indicators that contribute to the financial health of a college and impact how well colleges are able to serve their surrounding communities.

Those indicators include: 1) individual state budget appropriations, 2) county support, 3) the rate of dual enrollment, 4) foundations and philanthropic support, and 5) receipts from student tuition and other fees.

Without additional funding, community college leaders told EdNC, it’s difficult for colleges to respond effectively or with the creativity and flexibility required.

“All of these resources, collectively, are essential in helping us do the work that we do,” said Halifax Community College Dr. Patrena Elliott.

You can read the full report on our website.

New early college opening in NC to combat health care shortage

Durham Technical Community College is the latest community college to have a significant announcement tied to addressing the health care workforce shortage in our state.

Duke University Health System, Durham Technical Community College, and Durham Public Schools (DPS) announced plans Wednesday to establish an early college for high school students in the district who are interested in health care careers.

$29.5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies is funding the project. The program is intended to be a direct pathway to careers in Duke Health facilities and to provide another option to students besides the four-year college route.

At the beginning of the 2025-26 school year, Durham Tech will welcome 100 ninth graders into a newly renovated building on their campus. Leaders hope the program can help remedy labor shortages and health equity problems in the long term.

Durham is one of 10 communities that will receive funding as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “student-centered, market-driven healthcare education Initiative.”

Chantal’s article provides more details on the partnership and the new early college.

Around NC

President Joe Biden announced an $82 million investment to expand “affordable, high-speed internet” to 16,000 homes and businesses across North Carolina on Thursday in Raleigh. In addition, the administration released the “Improving Student Achievement Agenda” last week.

NC Central is the latest HBCU in North Carolina to enter a period of leadership transition. Hannah and I published a look at the different leadership transitions across the state.

This Saturday, Jan. 27 is FAFSA Day in communities across the state. You can find your closest, local FAFSA day on CFNC’s website.

The Rural Road Trip: Small Business Edition will be visiting community colleges across the state:

  • Asheville-Buncombe Community College, Feb. 16, 2024
  • Davidson-Davie Community College, March 15, 2024
  • South Piedmont Community College, April 19, 2024
  • Montgomery Community College, May 15, 2024
  • Carteret Community College, June 14, 2024
  • Vance-Granville Community College, July 19, 2024

Here is more information on the visits, and here is how to register.

Education Design Lab announced the first cohort of participants in the Community College Growth Engine Fellowship Program last week. Forsyth Technical Community College represents four members out of the eleven person cohort. The college also recently announced that its spring enrollment numbers are the highest they’ve been since spring 2014.

Richmond Community College accepted over 50 online students from across the state into the first 911 communications and operations class that began last August, according to a release from the college.

Robeson Community College announced they have graduated their largest class from their CDL and truck driving academy.

Johnston Community College is featured on an episode of “Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid,” a television series which highlights excellence and innovation in education. The episode featuring JCC looks at the college’s partnerships with Grifols and Novo Nordisk that help shape the local workforce in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing fields, according to a release from the college.

Other higher education reads

North Carolina’s Community Colleges Make a Big Bid to Stay Relevant

WorkShift from Open Campus Media is out with a look at PropelNC now. The NCCCS’ current funding model allocates resources to the colleges in proportion to the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students they enroll in each of their programs. Under the proposed model, funding based on FTE would remain in place — but the current FTE tiers would shift to realign to workforce sectors instead.

The big idea: The goal of Propel NC is creating more opportunities for students to enter short-term programs in high-growth job sectors, particularly those that traditionally have required formal degrees, like advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology.

“It will actually force us and incentivize us to listen to our employers, to have those thoughtful conversations like, ‘Will a certificate and an intensive, cohort-based 16-week class satisfy your requirements if this content is delivered?’” says Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College and one of Propel NC’s architects.

“If we don’t change and adapt and modernize, how are we going to stay relevant?”

Virginia Community College System reports alumni added $10 billion to the state’s economy in 2022

An economic impact study released in 2022 found that the N.C. Community College System contributes about $19.3 billion to the state’s economy each year. The community college system supports 319,763 jobs and employs 36,422 people, according to the report from labor analytics firm Emsi/Burning Glass.

The Virginia Community College System recently commissioned a similar study, according to a report from Cardinal News, “making the case that the benefits of the state’s 23 community colleges far outweigh their costs.”

Alumni of Virginia’s community colleges added $10.6 billion in personal and business income to the state economy in fiscal year 2022, while operations by the colleges themselves added another $1 billion in economic activity, according to a study set to be released Monday.

The study’s public release comes as VCCS is asking the Virginia General Assembly for $198.3 million in additional funding over the next two years. In fiscal year 2022, state and local government funding for Virginia’s community colleges totaled $605.5 million.

“The vast majority of our graduates stay and remain working in the commonwealth of Virginia,” David Doré, who has been chancellor of the Virginia Community College System since April 1, said in an interview. “So really investing in the system is an investment long term in the commonwealth of Virginia.”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.