Monday, May 27, 2024

Enrollment down 14% at Louisiana’s community colleges

by BIZ Magazine
college student with books

COVID-19 enrollment drop still a factor

(The Center Square) — Enrollment in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System declined to the lowest level in 14 years, while state appropriations increased to a decade-high peak in 2022, according to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

LLA Mike Waguespack issued an audit report for the community college system last week that evaluates the system’s finances and accountability over public funds.

“Based on a five-year analysis, although the System’s enrollment has declined 14%, total revenues have increased $150.2 million (29%),” according to the report’s highlights. “Federal Revenues increased $134.8 million, mainly due to COVID-19 Federal Funding and Other Revenues increased by $9.2 million, mainly due to increases in capital grants and gifts.”

The data shows the system’s fall enrollment for fiscal year 2022 was 52,282, down 322 from fiscal year 2021 and nearly 23,000 fewer students than a peak of 75,167 a decade ago. The last time enrollment was comparable to fiscal year 2022 was in 2008, when enrollment was 52,405, according to the report.

The system’s state appropriations was $151 million in FY 2022, up $29 million from the year prior and the highest level in a decade. Net revenue from tuition and fees, meanwhile, declined by $1 million from FY 2021 to $106 million in FY 2022. Those revenues had been above $110 million since 2014 and hit a peak of $123 million in FY 2019, before declining during the pandemic.

“The System’s net position overall increased from negative $65.2 million (restated) to positive $33.5 million from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022,” according to the report.

The change was due to a variety of reasons, including a $23 million net increase in current cash tied to federal funding, $18.2 million increase in net position for the LCTCS Facilities Corporations, a $241 million decrease in net pension liability and $169 million in deferred outflows and inflows related to pensions.

The system’s capital assets increased by about $18.9 million, or 2.7%, from FY 2021 to $715.7 million in FY 2022, while investing $624 million leased assets.

The system held $435.1 million in outstanding bonds at year-end, or 4.3% less than last year, due mainly to principal payments, reduction of bond premiums and discounts and issuance of $150.8 million in LCTCS Facilities Corporations bonds.

The report also notes several facts and conditions that could affect the system in the future, from state funding, to energy costs, to the loss of COVID-19 federal relief funds.

System management predict rising energy costs will increase college budgets by up to $4 million, “which is further compounded by other inflationary factors in other areas such as operating supplies and instructional materials,” according to the report.

Construction projects currently underway are also expected to cost about 52% more than budgeted, “requiring value engineering and smaller than anticipated projects in order to stay within budget,” the report reads.

The Higher Education Emergency Relief funds, used to offset student enrollment declines from the pandemic, also end in the current fiscal year, while a forecasted half-cent sales tax sunset in 2025 is expected to reduce the state general fund by $662 million.

Officials predict the former could cause problems for the system’s budget with continued student enrollment declines.

“If student enrollment does not rise to pre COVID-19 pandemic levels, this may leave a budget deficit,” the report read.

You may also like

Update Required Flash plugin