California community college enrollment plummets to 30-year low
For the past several years, enrollment at the state’s community colleges has been on the rise, but state enrollment officials now concede the trend is running out of steam.
State officials say the number of students at California’s community colleges has dropped to the lowest level since the 1950s.
The decline is a result of a “vicious tradeoff between the need for state support of community college education and state support for the financial viability of the largest and most costly state college system,” state officials wrote in a review of the California Community College System.
Since 2001, the number of students enrolled at the six community colleges dropped from nearly 50,000 to just over 37,000, officials said.
“California has made a huge reduction in the size of its community college system,” Secretary of the State Alex Padilla said. “It’s not as if the community colleges hadn’t suffered.”
At Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta College, which is part of the California Community Colleges System and includes Sacramento Valley College, the number of students plummeted from 10,084 to 1,891 between 2010 and 2015, the most recent year for which state data was available.
That was down from an average of about 14,000 students per year in the previous four years, she said.
“The largest drop is not at the community college system,” Padilla said. “It’s not that the system is closing, it’s that it’s not growing anymore.”
This year, the State Board of Education reviewed its annual budget and found no money for further increases in funding for CSU campuses. At the same time, however, it approved an additional $12 million in general funds to help CSU campuses enroll more students.
The state is in the process of increasing funding for CSU campuses to match the increase in the federal Pell Grant and California Dream Grant programs.
“We’re going to be investing