Enrollment dips as tuition risesJolly Rubin|THUNDERWORD
By Aline Valiente- Staff Reporter
Enrollment is falling and tuition is rising at Highline this fall.
Tuition and enrollment were hot topics during the Board of Trustees study session, which took place on Sept. 12 on the fourth floor of Building 25.
The Board of Trustees consists of five board members who govern Highline's guiding policies and provide strategic perspective that the president will use in running the college.
As Fall Quarter kicks off, enrollment is down. At one point last spring, it was down by 80 percent.
Last year was the first time that Highline's enrollment fell below the state average.
"Enrollment has fallen off statewide. It's been sliding everywhere," said Lela Cross, director of budget and grants.
As of Thursday, Sept. 19, Highline counted 3,630 full-time equivalent students, or FTEs (FTE is a standardized measure of enrollment; three students each taking one five-credit class would count as one FTE).
A year ago, the FTE count was 4,605. Running Start and international students are each down by more than 100 students, and enrollment is down across all categories of students.
Failing to meet state-mandated enrollment targets can threaten state funding, which pays for as much as half of Highline's budget. College officials have been scrambling all summer in an effort to get more students to enroll.
A healthy job market usually means fewer students, while a recession generally means higher enrollment. The unemployment rate in the Seattle area is at 3.3 percent, among the lowest in the country.
The decrease is also due in part to restrictive immigration policies, resulting in lower international student enrollment. Students hoping to arrive to the states and study at Highline are facing problems with a spike in rejected visas, college officials said.
Declining numbers of international students affects Highline's Campus View housing project. Thirty-one students were previously living on campus, with around 20 more expecting to arrive by the start of Fall Quarter. The building is currently a 160-bed complex.
"Numbers will continue to go up, once we get confirmation of international students who are arriving," Cross said.
The goal was to have 80 percent occupancy by the time Fall Quarter arrived, but officials are now projecting that it won't be possible, at least not soon.
Meanwhile, tuition is going up by 2.4 percent this year.
"That's an additional $35, which may not seem like much but it makes a difference for our
Students," said Trustee Dan Altmayer. "If we can find that revenue somewhere else in our budget other than putting it on the backs of the students, I think it's something we ought to explore or consider."
"On the other hand, if our student body is financially challenged and could use the extra help, there's a number of resources available on campus where they can get that assistance like Student Services," said Trustee Fred Mendoza.
"A couple years ago, we took student input and recommendations from Student Services,"
Altmayer said. "I hear all the time how students say how difficult and challenging it is for the costs.We've voted on each tuition increase, listened to students; it seems like we skipped the process [this time]."
Tuition is now $110 a credit for residents, $288 a credit for non-residents. Tuition for bachelor of applied science degrees range from $215 to $614 for non-residents.