Glendale Community College enrollment off 11% since 2004
Arizona Republic
Jul 13, 2008


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - July 13, 2008

Author: Carrie Watters, The Arizona Republic

Glendale Community College 's enrollment has shrunk, although it's not alone, nor the biggest decliner among the 10 colleges in the Maricopa Community College District.

Overall, the district projects a 3 percent decline between spring 2007 and spring 2008.

Only Chandler-Gilbert Community College saw substantial increases in students, up 9 percent from the prior year.

Projections indicate a 7 percent decline at Phoenix College .

As the economy goes down, enrollment in higher education typically goes up as people upgrade skills to compete.

Officials speculate that maxim could kick in this fall, as students continue to sign up.

Meanwhile, the reasons for the slide are tough to peg. One can't survey students who aren't showing up.

GCC officials have had a few years to theorize, as its enrollment has fallen four straight years.

After years of double-digit growth, GCC's student head count fell 11 percent between spring 2004 and spring 2007, from 19,734 students to 17,533.

New immigration laws, stiffer competition and a shift toward Internet courses are likely among the reasons.

The college , which has been in Glendale since 1965, now faces 13 higher-education competitors in the region.

Competition also comes from beyond the West Valley with the rise of online schools. GCC's biggest decline is in the number of part-time evening students. These students, often older and working, may be drawn to the convenience of doing course work from a home computer, GCC spokeswoman Trish Vogel said.

Also playing into the decline could be the passage of immigration measures. Proposition 300 required schools to charge out-of-state tuition prices to students who couldn't provide immigration documents.

On its heels, lawmakers passed an employer-sanctions law that penalizes companies that hire undocumented workers.

"It's possible that the current environment is frightening Latinos, legal and illegal, from enrolling," said Tom Gariepy, a district spokesman.

Whatever the causes, GCC has tightened its belt in some areas as it works to improve others.

GCC lost $600,000 in operating money for the 2008-09 school year because of declining enrollment, as well as other factors that enter complex funding formulas.

In recent years, belt tightening has meant fewer adjunct faculty and tighter schedules.

The college has eliminated some certificates, tweaking offerings to what business leaders and others say they need.

And the college is heavily investing in its main campus at 59th and Olive avenues and the Happy Valley Road satellite. GCC is in the midst of a $105 million capital-improvement plan.

Enrollment districtwide

The Maricopa Community College District's enrollment declined a projected 3 percent between spring 2007 and spring 2008.

* Chandler-Gilbert: Up 9 percent.

* Estrella Mountain, Paradise Valley, Rio Salado and Scottsdale: Less than a 1 percent shift up or down.

* Glendale : 2 percent down.

* South Mountain: 2 percent down.

* Gateway: 5 percent down.

* Mesa: 6 percent down.

* Phoenix: 7 percent down.


Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B2
Dateline: GLENDALE , AZ
Record Number: pho106954700