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Colleges See Drop In Enrollment After Harvey

For community colleges, the drop could mean less funding from the state.

Harvey flooded several grade schools in Texas, causing disruptions and relocating kids. Colleges have been affected in other ways: their enrollment numbers.

Irene Robinson heads the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions OfficersShe says that many colleges in south Texas have reported a drop in enrollment numbers after Harvey.

Harvey hit just as the semester began for most colleges and now students are having to focus on helping their families and finding housing or a vehicle, among other concerns causing them to miss this semester.

A drop in enrollment has wider implications, including a drop in funding. 

State funds for colleges are tied to enrollment numbers. With fewer students, schools could see less money from the state. That loss would be a bigger problem for community colleges, many of which have state funding as a larger portion of their budget than large universities with endowments.

And because community colleges often offer courses in sequence, missing a semester has a rippling effect on a student’s education.

“So not only have you missed a semester that you had to be out for Harvey, but you’re maybe behind a year,” Robinson said.

Robinson says colleges can’t do much about enrollment numbers right now, but says the state has been helpful in working with schools.

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