State community colleges see three-year enrollment drop

Mar 27, 2013

  This spring, community colleges in Illinois saw enrollment drop for the third straight year. But a state education official says that's not necessarily a bad thing. IPR’s Chris Slaby reports: 

 Nearly 206,000 full-time students enrolled in Illinois community colleges for the Spring 2013 semester.  That's down by more than 5,000 students compared to last spring, and 18,000 fewer compared to the record-setting Spring 20-10.  Enrollment is still higher than before the economic recession began in late 2008, which Karen Hunter-Anderson says resulted in more students attending community colleges to save money.

Hunter-Anderson is the vice-president of the Illinois Community College Board.  She says the enrollment numbers are just leveling out … and community colleges actually start losing money if enrollment gets “unusually high.”

 “We have to add new courses, we have to add new faculty, and in many cases those require extreme increased costs to the college.”

 Costs … the state is supposed to help pay.Hunter-Anderson says Illinois pays less than a third of what it's supposed to.  She says some colleges have had to increase tuition or ask for more local property tax money to make up the difference.