RCC enrollment decreases 6.4 percent

Published 8:37 pm Saturday, October 15, 2011

Riverland Community College’s enrollment is down this year.

There are about 3,329 students attending Riverland this fall compared to 3,558 students last year, according to a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities report. That’s a 6.4 percent drop in total headcount.

“This is not a surprise,” said Riverland President Terry Leas. “We were anticipating this. It was just a matter of what would be the degree of decline.”

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Leas said the main reason behind the drop is the lack of stimulus funding for job re-training. Workforce centers across the country don’t have the money to offer grants to laid-off workers looking to sharpen their skills this year, compared to last. Riverland’s enrollment was up by 2.7 percent last year, from 3,465 students to 3,558. Leas heard similar stories from other MnSCU presidents.

“That’s very unfortunate because there are people out there who need those skills, but for whatever reason don’t have the resources to,” he said.

Enrollment among students of color is up this year, or so Leas has heard.

The decrease in students will affect Riverland’s state funding, but Leas said it’s too difficult to tell how much the college’s state aid will decrease since higher education funding has decreased for years. Riverland won’t feel the effects of this year’s enrollment decline for several years, according to Leas.

Students of color at Riverland has jumped from 3 percent of the college in 2003 to 15 percent last year.

MnSCU’s overall population is down as well. There are 200,716 students in MnSCU colleges and universities this year, compared to 203,716 last year.