HCC

Heartland’s enrollment down; personnel cuts still on the table

2012-09-04T16:57:00Z Heartland’s enrollment down; personnel cuts still on the tableBy Lenore Sobota | lsobota@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com
September 04, 2012 4:57 pm  • 

NORMAL — Enrollment at Heartland Community College is down 6.5 percent from last year, as measured by total number of credit hours, Heartland President Allen Goben said Tuesday.

That is the biggest drop since Heartland began offering classes in 1991, Goben said, but it is less than the 8 percent that was projected in the college’s tentative budget. While the tentative $32.2 million budget calls for a 3.5 percent spending increase, Goben said cuts in personnel spending are on the table.

Community colleges across the state are experiencing similar declines, with officials pointing to the struggling economy as the key factor.

Heartland students enrolled in a total of 50,425 credit hours this fall, down from 53,425 last fall as measured on the traditional benchmark of the 10th day of classes.

The number of students also is down. There are 5,313 students registered for classes this fall as of the 10th day, a drop of 245 from the same point last year, Goben said.

While that is a 4.4 percent decrease, college officials were anticipating a decrease of about 5 percent, he said.

Goben said registration for 12-week and eight-week classes, which haven’t started yet, is expected to bring numbers up a little bit, but not much.

He said it’s “too early to tell” whether the downward trend will continue. Other community colleges have experienced enrollment declines while Heartland grew or remained relatively unchanged.

Illinois Valley Community College reported the biggest drop in the area, with a headcount of 3,944 — a drop of 9 percent — and a 10 percent decrease in credit-hour enrollment, according to Fran Brolley, IVCC director of community relations and development.

At Parkland College in Champaign, the 10-day headcount was down 3.8 percent from this time last year, according to Patty Lehn, director of marketing and public relations. She said enrollment is “kind of leveling off now” after declines is the last couple of years.

Enrollment is down about 5 percent this fall at Richland Community College in Decatur.

Illinois Central College figures won’t be available until later this week.

Goben said he’s been told typical college student jobs with flexible hours haven’t picked up, even though the economy is showing signs of improvement. Forced to choose between school and a job that doesn’t fit their class schedule, many are opting for employment, he said.

“It’s a pretty unpredictable environment we’re in right now,” Goben said. “We will have to plan for flexibility.”

Heartland officials continue to work on a final budget, to be acted on at the board’s Sept. 25 meeting.

How those personnel cuts will be made hasn’t been decided, Goben said. Officials are “holding on as long as possible,” he said, to see how many retirements and resignations take place.

He said, “We may lean a little bit on our (budget) reserves.”

Rather than dwell on the decrease in students, Goben said he has told faculty and staff to “focus on the 5,300-plus student we have here.”

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(4) Comments

  1. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - September 05, 2012 10:53 am
    You're assuming everyone takes out loans. For our three children, we opened college savings accounts when they were each less than one year old. Our out-of-pocket expenses have been negligible, and there are no loans to pay back.
  2. thoughts a million
    Report Abuse
    thoughts a million - September 05, 2012 10:11 am
    Once again, ISU turned away students. Had about four applicants for every opening. The Pantagraph had an article two weeks ago that IWU enrollment was down about 40 students.
  3. annieoakley
    Report Abuse
    annieoakley - September 05, 2012 5:42 am
    Why would someone want to go to college and spend thousands of dollars when they can't find a job afterward to pay for their loans? I wonder how ISU or IWU is doing on their enrollment. It seems I don't see as many students as I use to.
  4. Anthony G
    Report Abuse
    Anthony G - September 04, 2012 10:51 pm
    How is enrollment at universities looking?
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