LTCC enrollment growing, numbers keeping pace with state funding |

LTCC enrollment growing, numbers keeping pace with state funding

Lake Tahoe Community College is growing, but not at the rate of bigger California Community Colleges, officials said.

This year’s fall enrollment for the 108 California community colleges is estimated to increase by more than 115,000 students, or a 6.9 percent increase, said Chancellor Thomas J. Nussbaum.

The increase results in the largest enrollment in the system’s history at 1.79 million students.

LTCC is seeing its share of the expanded enrollment, in part because of a new gymnasium and tough economic times, said Guy Lease, president of the college.

“I think throughout the first days of registration (enrollment) is way up,” Lease said.

Compared to last year after three days of registration, there were 361 more students who enrolled in the college this fall.

Likewise, compared to the first registration days in fall 1999, more than 420 students are taking classes this year.

College officials are calling the recent influx of students “Tidal Wave II.” The first tidal wave of students were the baby boomers, while the second set are the offspring of that generation, Lease said.

Between 1999 and 2005, experts expected an additional 450,000 college-aged, 18- to 22-year-old, students flooding California schools, Lease said. With a slow growth of state schools and universities, community colleges are getting the student spillover.

“The full impact of Tidal Wave II is now upon us,” Nussbaum told the California Community Colleges Board of Governors on Monday. “We have planned for this day for a long time.”

Nussbaum added that funding for larger community colleges is in jeopardy because of the extreme student growth.

“Colleges report that classes have gotten larger, course sections have been cut, wait lists are getting longer and many students simply cannot get into the courses they need,” the chancellor said.

Lease commented that LTCC is a small community college and state funding won’t be affected from growth. The college gets $4,000 for every full-time equivalent student. LTCC receives money for growth up to 100 new students.

Last year, the college had 104 new students. Meaning the college received $400,000 for the 100 students, but missed out on $16,000 from the extra four.

“Our growth has not been so fast that we’re way behind the funding like some colleges are in the urban area,” Lease said. “We’re allowed to grow 100 full-time equivalent students and be funded for it. Larger schools typically work off percentage.”

That percentage usually falls around 2 or 3 percent. Some community colleges have growth at 5 percent, Lease said.

In 2001-02, there were 40,579 unfunded full-time equivalent community college students in California. In 1999-00, there were 5,051.

The numbers have Nussbaum concerned.

“Last year, community colleges served more students than the entire enrollment of UCLA without any state funding,” he said. “This is not a situation that can be sustained.”

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