Community College Funding
Oregon’s community colleges – their faculty and staff – serve as our state’s economic first-responders. Over 370,000 Oregonians are enrolled at 17 community colleges around the state. By providing professional training and serving as an affordable bridge to a 4-year degree, Oregon’s community college system is a driver of business development and job creation needed to get Oregon’s economy moving again.
Investment in Oregon’s Community Colleges has not kept pace with student demand. Enrollment at Oregon’s community colleges has skyrocketed in the midst of the state’s economic recession. This increase in student enrollment often correlates with the rates of unemployment in many parts of our state. Since the beginning of the great recession college enrollment has jumped over 30 percent while state funding has dropped over 20 percent.
Since the 2011 Legislative Session, Oregon has been enmeshed in educational reform work. The 2013 session saw community college funding become a top priority, with 16 capital construction projects funded, as well as the passage of legislation that radically changed the governance of public postsecondary education in Oregon.
According to Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, state appropriations to Oregon’s community colleges grew in the mid-2000s. However, the recent “great recession” led to a decrease in funding of over $100 million from 2001-2012. That tide began to change as legislative leaders made it clear that community college funding was a priority. Thus, after five years of budget cuts, the Community College Support Fund (CCSF) received a significant increase in the 2013 legislative session with funding going from $395.5 million in 2011-13 to $465 million for the 2013-15 biennium.
State funding per full-time equivalent students was severely impacted by the budget cuts, hitting the lowest it had been in over a decade in 2011-13. Even with the increase in funding from the legislature, student tuition remains nearly 50 percent of community college revenue statewide.