Financial Decision Making during Economic Contraction: The Special Case of Community Colleges.Report as inadecuate

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Although faced with declining revenues and increasing enrollments, community colleges have also traditionally provided expensive support services for nontraditional students and maintained costly technological capacities to respond to the training needs of business. Financial decision-makers face unsettling questions as they attempt to achieve financial stability while maintaining vital programs, questions which can only be answered through effective planning. Planning efforts must take into account issues of systemic, substantive, programmatic, procedural, and fiduciary accountability. In addition, types of budget cuts (i.e., short- or long-term) must be considered based on an assessment of college mission and should distinguish between factors that the institution cannot control, such as service area demographics and federal subsidies, and those that it can control, such as admissions standards and determining unit costs. Existing programs should be examined with respect to their essentiality to the college, quality, need, demand, location advantage, cost-revenue relationship, and costs associated with maintaining or changing the program's role. While cuts are almost always a necessary short-term solution to solve budget problems, alternatives include improving student retention through more comprehensive services, improving the campus climate and tightening standards to enhance the institution's reputation and attract more students, and attracting new sources of revenue. (Contains 30 references.) (KP)

Descriptors: Accountability, Budgeting, College Planning, Community Colleges, Cost Effectiveness, Educational Finance, Financial Exigency, Institutional Mission, Institutional Survival, Long Range Planning, Program Evaluation, Retrenchment, Two Year Colleges

Author: Seater, Barbara


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