Community colleges see funding cuts despite record enrollment

Posted August 18, 2011 5:10 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2011 6:36 p.m. EDT

— Wake Technical Community College has seen its enrollment increase more than 30 percent since 2008. At the same time, it and other state community colleges have seen a 10 percent decrease in state funding.

Many community colleges in North Carolina have reported a record number of students enrolling, forcing them to put people on a wait list.

“Our demand exceeds our ability to serve,” said Wake Tech President Stephen Scott. “What we’re going to do, we’re going to serve people as long as Wake Tech has resources.”

Last year, about 5,000 people were a wait list for Wake Tech’s classes. That number is now about 6,400. Scott says he wishes no one had to be on the wait list.

School leaders say one reason more people are turning to community colleges is because of the troubled economy. That’s true for Dana Murray, who lost a retail job he had for eight years. He has been looking to switch careers by pursuing a degree in criminal justice.

“It’s been hard trying to obtain a job, trying to find a decent job to, I guess, pay the bills,” he said.

The State Board of Community Colleges was meeting Thursday and Friday in downtown Raleigh. Across the state, 58 community colleges serve more than 800,000 students.