The drop in high school graduates and low unemployment rates in the Williamsville, New York area, are factors of SUNY Erie Community College’s low enrollment, said Dr. Dan Hocoy, Erie’s president.
Hocoy also recently appeared before the County Legislature, where he cited the drop in high school graduates and low employment rates and said the college’s decline in student enrollment is relative to that of the community colleges in Niagara and Monroe counties.
There has been a 30 percent decline in Erie’s student enrollment since 2010, from 15,000 to 10,500, according to a county Comptroller’s Office report. The decline in enrollment includes both full- and part-time students.
As far as the community colleges in Western New York – ECC, Genesee Community College, Jamestown Community College, Monroe Community College and Niagara County Community College – the decline in student population at all of the schools over the same time period amounts to nearly 31 percent. Student enrollment at community colleges throughout the state has decline by almost 18 percent, the report found.
The decline in enrollment also places additional pressure on colleges seeking additional revenue from the state as it is a factor in computer state aid.
Erie officials are attempting to address the student retention and enrollment rates through improved student support and outreach, Hocoy told The Buffalo News.
The community college is also pursuing new certificate programs in high need areas and more flexible course schedules for working adults attending the school.
In order to operate with a balanced budget, community colleges may need to implement strategies to reduce costs or increase revenue, like increasing student tuition, which may contradict the goals of the community colleges, the report said.
Hocoy also noted that tuition for full-time students ($4,900) did not change this year, reserve funds are increasing and the school has maintained a balanced budget. Tuition increased by nearly 49 percent before Hocoy became the community college’s president in July 2017. Tuition has not increased since he began his presidency.