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The House budget is here. What's in it for community colleges?

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Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58. We hope you will stay a while. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

The House released its budget yesterday… I visited Martin Community College to learn about their new “Career in a Year” initiative… NC Chamber’s Education & Workforce Conference is Wednesday… Some community colleges are mandating face masks on campus…

Good morning,

This is Molly, EdNC’s news and policy director, filling in for Nation as he travels western North Carolina this week visiting CCC&TI, McDowell Tech, Blue Ridge, and A-B Tech. Thanks for reading!

The big news this week is the release of the House budget. Since the Senate released their budget in June, we’ve been waiting to see the House’s version, which they began unveiling in committee meetings last Thursday before releasing the full budget Monday. So, what’s in it for community colleges?

The House budget proposes a 7% salary increase for community college faculty and a 4% increase for all other community college personnel over the next two years (3.5% each year for faculty and 2% for other personnel).

It also proposes $8.7 million in FY 2021-22 and $12.3 million in FY 2022-23 to “create a new faculty recruitment and retention fund for community college faculty in high-need fields.”

The House budget allocates almost $80 million for budget stabilization, $15 million for broadband access for rural community colleges, and almost $1.5 million for nine regional information technology security positions.

For more on the House’s proposed salary increases, click here. For more on the rest of the House budget, click here.

Thank you to everyone who’s written in to tell us about the various free tuition efforts at your colleges. Last week I visited Martin Community College (MCC) to learn about their “Career in a Year” initiative.

Using a combination of federal, state, and foundation dollars, MCC is offering free tuition and fees for students who enroll in programs designed to be completed in one year that lead to an entry-level job. These programs include automotive systems technology, early childhood education, information technology, nurse aide, paramedic, welding, and more.

President Wesley Beddard said the initiative is aimed at attracting adult learners. “We needed to do more for adult learners here,” he said. “This career in a year with free tuition and free fees, we’re targeting toward basically folks out of high school, adult learners, a lot of them have been out for a number of years.” Learn more in my article here.

I also spoke with Beaufort County Community College (BCCC) president Dave Loope and marketing coordinator Attila Nemecz about the Beaufort Promise. BCCC is offering free tuition and fees for all students who are North Carolina residents through spring 2023.

“We are trying to think big,” Loope said. “We have this money that is a one-time source. We need to do something big and important with it for the lives of people in this region.”

Next week is the first week of fall classes for many community colleges across the state. Some colleges are mandating face masks on campus, and others are holding vaccine clinics as students return. What is your college doing to prepare for students returning to campus next week? We want to know. Reply to this email to share, or email me directly at [email protected].

We also want to know what your colleges are doing for developmental education this semester. As a reminder, the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents voted to stop the statewide rollout of the RISE model at the end of April. Some colleges are sticking with RISE while others are trying to figure out a new model. What is your college doing? Email [email protected] to let us know.

Thank you for reading,

Molly Osborne

EdNC’s news and policy director


EdNC reads

N.C. House starts releasing portions of its budget

The House released sections of its budget last week during committee hearings. EdNC’s Anna Pogarcic wrote up some of the highlights for K-12 education and community colleges. From the article:

“The House’s proposal allocates $79,983,422 nonrecurring for budget stabilization to mitigate enrollment declines, $3 million more than the budget passed in the Senate in June. And similar to the Senate budget, it allocates $15 million nonrecurring for broadband access for rural community colleges and almost $1.5 million recurring for nine regional information technology security positions.

“One major addition in the House’s proposal is that it would use American Rescue Plan funds to allocate $12 million over the next year to expand apprenticeship opportunities in high-demand fields, like engineering and construction.”

Click here for more

N.C. House releases full budget with salary proposals

The House released its full budget proposal Monday afternoon, including the much anticipated salary numbers. For community college faculty, the House budget proposes a 7% salary increase over two years. For all other personnel, the budget proposes a 4% salary increase over two years.

The proposal also would create a recurring fund for recruitment and retention. This would allow a community college to contact the system office to get additional funds for a new hire’s contract if necessary.

Read more here

Enrolling in community college this fall? You might qualify for free tuition. Here's how.

Students can qualify for financial assistance through the Longleaf Commitment Grant, GEER scholarships, and more. This article provides an overview of these two programs along with their respective eligibility requirements. Share it with prospective students!

Click here for the story

Martin Community College offers ‘Career in a Year’ to attract adult learners

Statewide, community colleges saw enrollment declines of 11% in fall 2020 compared to fall 2019. Enrollment declines were particularly steep among workforce training courses: Enrollment in workforce training dropped 22% from the previous fall while curriculum courses dropped 6%.

Martin Community College is hoping its new Career in a Year initiative will encourage adult learners to enroll this year, and so far it looks like it’s working.

While they only announced Career in a Year recently, Beddard said they are already seeing increased interest from adult students. Just last week, they received 21 applications for Career in a Year, which is about 10% of their adult student enrollment, Beddard said.

“We’re seeing people who hadn’t really thought about going to college … but when you start talking jobs and careers, ‘Oh, well, yeah, I might be interested in doing that,’” said Beddard.

If nothing else, the initiative is generating positive attention for the college and getting people in the door, which Beddard said is half the battle.

Read more here

Around NC

EdNC’s Nation Hahn and Emily Thomas are visiting several colleges this week, including CCC&TI, McDowell Tech, Blue Ridge, and A-B Tech. Follow them on Twitter @NationHahn and @emlybrthomas for updates throughout the week.

The NC Chamber is holding its virtual Education & Workforce Conference on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. See the agenda here, and follow us on Twitter @EducationNC and @mosborne917 for updates from the conference.

CCDaily published an article from Central Carolina Community College featuring their “Women in Construction” continuing education class. Check out the article here.

Haywood Community College students who complete an associate degree in a college transfer program will now have guaranteed admission to UNC Asheville upon graduation. Read more in this article from Mountain Xpress.

Several community colleges are requiring students to wear masks while on campus this fall. See a list of Charlotte area college mask and vaccine mandates here.


Other higher education reads

Opinion | Biden's free community college plan won't succeed without robust transfer strategies

Senior program manager at the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Gelsey Mehl argues that free college won’t increase attainment unless transfer pathways from two- to four-year colleges are strengthened.

“What if students flock to community colleges because of free tuition, only to later learn that just a few courses will transfer to four-year universities and count toward their chosen programs? Free college will disproportionately benefit those with the connections to navigate unwieldy transfer policies as well as the money to fund additional semesters at a four-year university.”

For adults returning to college, ‘free’ tuition isn’t enough

As community colleges try to attract adult learners, they need to be thinking about a lot more than the cost of tuition, writes Laura Pappano for The Hechinger Report.

“There is a complexity to adult learners,” said Perna. Programs to serve them must consider finances, schedules and supports. “It is really recognizing, ‘What are the circumstances of individual people’s lives?’ If someone is to enroll in college, how do you make it possible for them to attend?”

Read the full piece here.

Governments Sinking Millions Into Training Unemployed Residents for High-paying Jobs

Route Fifty looks at the ways states and cities across the country are responding to labor shortages. Approaches include partnering with community colleges for job training in high-demand industries.

Molly Osborne

Molly Osborne is the director of news and policy for EducationNC.