Enrollment growth at Austin Community College's spring semester grew by ten percent, according to ACC, setting a new enrollment record of 45,056. The college says most of the growth came from people aged 25 and older.
Hispanic enrollment at ACC increased sixteen percent to almost 12,000. African-American enrollment was up seven percent to just under 4,000.
ACC president and CEO Stephen Kinslow is using the announcement to make a point about proposed state funding cuts to community colleges.
“ACC and other community colleges are key to closing the educational gaps in Texas, which helps drive economic recovery," Kinslow said in a press release. "Reducing community college resources would be counterproductive to the state’s goals.”
The Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) reports there are almost 750,000 students in community college systems statewide, and the number continues to grow.
"That's seemingly across the board, regardless of large metro district, midsize district, small rural district. They are all continuing to grow and add more students," TACC spokesman Steve Johnson told KUT News.
Budget proposals from the Texas House and Senate would implement deep cuts to community college funding as part of the effort to close a state budget gap of between $15 billion and $27 billion. From our political reporting partners at the Texas Tribune:
Like the House, the Senate would cut more than $254 million from special item funding for state colleges and universities and $431 million from student financial aid programs (if the money becomes available, they'd add back $50 million of that financial aid, for a total cut of $381 million). Four community colleges that would lose their funding in the House bill remain in place in the Senate plan.
The Tribune has also reported on the budget proposal to slash health benefits at community colleges. If that measure is approved, it could put even more pressure on their already-squeezed budgets.
The chair-elect of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, Bill Holda, told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the proposed cuts have colleges looking at raising tuition, increasing taxes, and considering caps on enrollment, reports the Associated Press.
The majority of students who attend community colleges are first-generation college students from low-income families. They can't afford the increase in tuition that community colleges would be forced to charge.
You can watch archived video of Holda's testimony on the Senate Committee on Finance's homepage. He testified on Tuesday, February 8.