As dual enrollment and other admissions funded at high rates are on the rise, the college continues to reinvest in outreach.
By Isaac Dektor, Editor-in-Chief
With an eight percent increase in enrollments and a $10 million balance on the books, Valley College is poised to climb above the “hold harmless” funding floor if current trends continue.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a major shortage of students statewide, leading the state to fund colleges based on older and higher enrollment numbers. The state provided protections, called “hold harmless,” were extended until 2025. Colleges are guaranteed a certain amount of funding and can go above that base if enrollment and other factors increase according to budget committee chair Howard Levine. Valley’s funding is determined by three factors: the number of full-time students, financial aid disbursements and degrees awarded.
“Dual enrollment is growing at a faster rate than other types of enrollments and is also funded at a higher rate,” said Gribbons. “So it's to our benefit that the area that's funded at the highest rate is growing.”
As full-time equivalent students make up 70 percent of the funding formula, the recent enrollment boom is a positive sign for the college. Full-time equivalent students are further divided into subcategories that are funded at different rates, including dual enrollment, full-time students and those taking non-credit courses.
Non-credit career development college preparation courses also saw an enrollment spike at the start of this semester, and these types of students are funded at a higher rate. Many of these courses saw enrollments decline due to the pandemic, causing sections to be canceled.
Eight years ago, Valley was in debt at roughly $5 million to the district. But after reigning in deficit spending and balancing the budget for three consecutive years, the district forgave the debt. The Monarchs have been stacking surpluses and growing the year-end balance ever since. The treasure chest now holds $10.7 million.
While the funds offer a guardrail in case of a rainy day — Valley is currently projecting a $4 million deficit this year, though spending could still avoid entering the red — the administration has been proactive in investing a portion of its funds into outreach. As enrollments are up at rates higher than the district average, the investment appears to have materialized into more students, whether it be online or in-person.
“If the state ended up cutting revenues, or something else happened that impacted our revenues, we would have 10.7 million dollars to be able to cover anything,” said Gribbons. “We can also use that 10.7 million strategically to grow our enrollments, to help eliminate disproportionate impact and to promote completion.”