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North Carolina's revenue picture is rosier than predicted

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The state’s revenue forecast is better than anticipated… We profile the legislators who will impact education in the upcoming session… We have a new podcast out now from our team member Kaidyn Radford focused on lifting up community college voices … 

The big news from Raleigh last week was the state’s revenue picture is far better than earlier forecasts indicated. How much better? Try $4.1 billion better. This revelation will drive much of the conversation during the upcoming session as legislators wade through various requests from different entities across state government, industries that have been hammered by COVID-19 like the hospitality and tourism sectors, those who believe we should build up the state’s rainy day fund, and more.

For more on the revenue picture, scroll down. You can also expect to hear a lot more discussion on this topic in the weeks and months ahead.

As our coverage from the General Assembly continues, my colleagues Alex Granados and Michael Taffe are out with a primer on the legislators who will help shape education policy this session. You will find the list of key chairs and vice-chairs, members of each committee, and other assorted details in the piece.

The launch of NC First in FAFSA campaign was also in the news last week. Our article noted, “A group of nonprofits are making a push to get more students to fill out the FAFSA — or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — after North Carolina students ‘left an estimated $107 million on the table’ by not filling it out in 2020, according to a press release.”

In case you missed it, the Belk Center at NC State released new research around promising practices in transfers between HBCUs and community colleges. Monique Colclough from the Belk Center led the research. As she notes in the beginning of the paper, “From Fall 2018 to Fall 2019, over 25,000 students transferred from the North Carolina Community College System’s 58 colleges to 16 of the University of North Carolina institutions. Over 3,000 of the community college students transferred to one of the five public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).”

I am heading to Central Carolina Community College this week with my colleague Alli Lindenberg. Check out the CCCC profile page on for more information on the college — and follow us on Twitter for live reporting @Awake58NC, @AlliLindy, and @NationHahn. My podcast with Central Carolina CC president Lisa Chapman will also go live later today — stay tuned for that podcast to drop and let me know your thoughts!

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth,

EdNC reads

‘Beyond the Classroom: Voices from Community Colleges’ podcast

We have been fortunate to host John M Belk Endowment Impact Fellow Kaidyn Radford since last fall. Radford is a former community college student who is passionate about both community colleges and podcasts. When asked to describe the focus of this new podcast, Radford said, “‘Beyond the Classroom: Voices from Community Colleges” is a podcast dedicated to uplifting the voices of North Carolina community college students, mentors, and professors.”

In the first episode, Radford spoke with Donald Ellington, the department chair for manufacturing at Guilford Technical Community College. Ellington shared his own personal story of being a community college student, gave advice to current and prospective students, and more.

If you have a student who you believe should be profiled, please reach out with your suggestions by replying directly to this email.

The State's revenue picture is better than expected

Ahead of the General Assembly kicking off the 2021 long session, the big question on everyone’s minds was how the revenue picture might play out given the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy.

We now know the news — and it is positive. From my colleague Alex Granados:

Finally, a long overdue consensus revenue forecast was released yesterday.

The forecast is that revenues for fiscal year 2020-21 will exceed expectations by about $4.1 billion. The total anticipated revenues are now about $27.6 billion. The revenues for fiscal year 2019-20 were about $24 billion.

The revenue forecast for fiscal year 2021-22 is $27.4 billion, and fiscal year 2022-23 is $28.5 billion.

NC Insider had the following additional last week:

Instead, according to the new report, expected revenue collections are “well above” the May 2020 forecast by $4.1 billion, which is 17.6%. The revenue forecast is a joint forecast of the Office of State Budget and Management, which is part of the executive branch, and the Fiscal Research Division of the General Assembly. “We expect modest improvement throughout the upcoming biennium, with the worst economic impacts from the pandemic behind us,” the report states. It explains that this year’s anticipated revenue surplus is helped significantly by sales tax collections increasing despite the pandemic, along with the delayed tax payments.

For the full revenue forecast report, click here.

The revenue forecast may come up on Wednesday during the next meeting of the Senate Committee on Education and Higher Education. Senators will hear from the system office regarding their legislative priorities during the 11 a.m. committee meeting. You may listen in virtually or view the livestream.

Podcasts from across the community college landscape

As we noted above, Kaidyn’s podcast has now officially launched. In addition, my colleague Alli Lindenberg is going to provide a regular update of postsecondary podcasts. Let us know of any we missed! See Alli’s update below:

Introducing: Beyond the Classroom – The Learning Mindset with Donald Ellington

“Beyond the Classroom: Voices from Community Colleges” is a podcast dedicated to uplifting the voices of North Carolina community college students, mentors, and professors. It is hosted by a former community college student, Kaidyn Radford. In this first episode, Radford talks to Donald Ellington, the department chair for manufacturing at Guilford Technical Community College.

We Are Wake Tech – Episode 1 – Spring Semester Begins During an Ongoing Global Pandemic

Like many higher education institutions, Wake Tech continues to face a disruption from normalcy due to the global pandemic brought on by COVID-19. How are students handling the challenges of college, work, and their personal lives during these unsettling times? Dr. Scott Ralls, president of Wake Technical Community College, is joined by SGA President, Ruben Arrieta Mendoza, who talks about his experiences and shares student challenges.

Hello CMS – Celebrating Career and Technical Education

‬This month is Career and Technical Education month. In this episode of Hello CMS, the hosts explore CTE with director Susan Gann-Carroll who shares new pathways on the way for the 2021 – 2022 school year and how students can get a jump start on their career before graduating high school.

Updates from the NC Community College conference

The 2021 N.C. Community College System Conference is in its third week. Here are the highlights from last week from my colleague Michael Taffe:

Tuesday, Feb. 9

The session “The State of Transfer in North Carolina” outlined how community colleges can best prepare students who intend to transfer to a four-year university. Carrie Bartek of Wake Tech highlighted the need for transfer student support services, both at community colleges and at the college to which they transfer. 

“Students who navigate transfer and acclimate to universities successfully have multifaceted support systems and internal motivation that functions as protection and assists them when things get hard. They develop resilience that way,” Bartek said.

Thursday, Feb. 11

Sarah Deal of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research highlighted the benefit of dual enrollment programs to community colleges and to the students themselves in a session titled, “The Promise of Free College: Results from Research on Career and College Promise.” 

“[Career and College Promise students] are socialized to the norms and expectations of college so they’re getting used to working with college faculty and the expectations of college faculty,” Deal said. “They’re able to practice rigorous college level curriculum, understanding that there may not be as many opportunities for do overs, and they get to practice that at a little bit of a lower risk environment.”

Monday, Feb. 15

Peter Hans, UNC System president and former president of the North Carolina Community College System, gave a keynote address Monday morning.

“Too many Americans without a college degree or credential — often heavily concentrated in rural areas — feel a deep sense of alienation,” he said. “And not just from colleges and universities, but from government and from media and big institutions of all kinds.”

In terms of legislative priorities, Hans said he hopes to raise the out-of-state student cap for HBCUs from 18% to 25%. Hans also said he plans to advocate for financial aid incentives for community college students who transfer to the UNC system. 

What we’re watching this week

Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.: First Generation Success: Landscape Analysis of Programs and Services at Two-Year Institutions

Friday, Feb. 19 at 9 a.m.: Strategic Commitments to Student Success, featuring Jeff Cox of the Belk Center.

Around NC

The State Board of Community Colleges meets Thursday and Friday this week. The meeting will be streamed live on the NC Community College System Office YouTube channel.

Per the system office: “Committees will meet on Feb. 18 as follows: Programs at 9:30 a.m.; Personnel at 11 a.m.; Strategic Planning at 12:30 p.m.; Finance at 2 p.m.; State Board Policy and Governance at 3:30 p.m.; and Legislative Affairs at 3:45 p.m.”

The full board will meet Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. The agenda may be found here. The board package may be found here.

The N.C. House Education Committee on Community Colleges met for the first time this session last Thursday. According to Michael Taffe, “Chair Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) introduced new system president, Thomas Stith. The committee also unanimously gave favorable consent for a bill to allow up to two members of the board of trustees of Isothermal Community College to be members of the boards of county commissioners.”

The committee meets Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. The meetings can be streamed live here.

Catawba Valley Community College announced a new Chief Academic Officer.

Central Piedmont Community College is facing a substantial ransomware attack. Local television station WBTV has a segment on the attack.

NC A&T announced “a $1.5-million gift from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation in support of the Aggie Commitment Trailblazer Scholars (ACTS) program. ACTS is a STEM Pathways program for students transferring from 11 community colleges in North Carolina to N.C. A&T. The program will support full in-state tuition scholarships, transfer-centric learning communities, mentoring, a co-advising student success model, experiential learning opportunities and work strategy planning.”

Pitt Community College and Martin Community College announced new articulation agreements.

Richmond Community College “saw a decrease in overall fall enrollment of about 13% from the previous year, but has seen an increase for the spring semester compared to last spring.”

NASA and Southwestern Community College will continue their partnership. 🚀

The AJ Fletcher Foundation is looking for a fellow. Be sure to check out this opportunity: “The position is a two-year, paid fellowship that is structured to fulfill the current interests of the organization while supporting the personal development of the fellow. The Fletcher Fellow will work closely with staff and partner organizations to support efforts in communications and digital strategy (managing our social media presence, highlighting our partners, creating our newsletter/communication projects), grants management, research, and planning. The role requires proficient communication skills, project management, and savviness in interpersonal relations. This position is full-time starting in Summer 2021 based in Raleigh, NC.” Find more information here:

Other higher education reads

The White House may host a community college summit

First Lady Jill Biden spoke at a virtual community college conference recently and mentioned that she hopes for another White House summit of community college leaders. reports: “On Tuesday, Biden reiterated during a virtual conference with community college leaders that public two-year colleges again will play a pivotal role in rebuilding the U.S. economy, calling them ‘our most powerful engine of prosperity.'”

Mike Krause proposes: "Moving beyond binary thinking"

Mike Krause, who served for four years as the executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and was the founding director of the Tennessee Promise, has a perspective for Inside Higher Ed proposing two strategies for colleges to undertake during this moment in time.

This particular passage stood out to me as worthy of debate: “Is the student who has successfully completed a 15-hour sequence of general education not more culturally fluent and adept at writing than they were with zero credit hours? They must be, or else something is fundamentally wrong with the value of the education being delivered. Can’t we somehow capture the student at the 30-credit-hour mark and award an interim credential of value, ensuring that if they leave before graduating they have a tangible artifact that can elevate their employment prospects?”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.