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COM Enrollment Is Down

College announces a 9 percent drop in spring enrollment, compared to 2012

There seem to be fewer students at College of Marin, but they're taking more classes.

College of Marin’s Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness Office released recently enrollment figures for the spring 2013 semester that showed a nine percent decrease over the past year. There are 6,620 students enrolled for spring 2013 compared to 7,337 students that enrolled in the spring 2012 semester.

This semester’s average student load increased to 7.4 credits compared to 7.2 credits for spring 2012, according to COM officials.

A statement released by the college says:

The recent enrollment decline at College of Marin follows a statewide trend among California community colleges that has been largely attributed to budget cuts resulting in fewer course offerings, fee increases, and changes in federal financial aid regulations.

While a California community college education continues to be an excellent value when compared to universities, enrollment fees have gone up from $20 per unit in 2008-09 to $46 per unit in 2012-13--an astounding 130 percent increase in just five years.

As a result of these significant fee increases, the availability of financial aid plays an increasingly significant role in enrollment at College of Marin.
According to Financial Aid Director David Cook, more College of Marin students are applying for financial aid now than at any other time in the college’s history.

“Five years ago financial aid applicants represented about 20 percent of our student population. Now they represent close to 80 percent of our student population,” said Cook.

Even while demand for financial aid has increased exponentially at College of Marin, new federal financial aid regulations are making it harder for students to qualify. Students must make good academic progress in order to continue receiving financial aid. Approximately 586 College of Marin students that were enrolled in fall 2012 credit classes have been denied financial aid for spring 2013 because of poor academic performance.

Another factor contributing to lower enrollment is fewer classes. Budget cuts at College of Marin have resulted in a reduction of 149 units from the spring credit schedule since spring 2010. A total of 56 units were cut from the spring 2013 credit class schedule compared to spring 2012. Similar reductions have been made to fall course schedules beginning in fall 2010 when the college offered a high of 2,563 units compared with fall 2012 when only 2,456 units were offered. (An average class is made up of three units and enrolls about 25 students per class.)

According to Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness Director Dr. Chialin Hsieh, the effect is cumulative.

“Fewer students enrolling in consecutive semesters due to fewer course offerings have a domino effect,” said Hsieh. “Additional cuts would result in continued decrease in enrollment.”

John Ferguson February 12, 2013 at 12:08 AM
As our state's higher education cuts continue to reduce availability and quality of courses across the higher education spectrum, I would expect this trend to continue. Combine this trend with the emerging world class offerings at zero cost from online course providers like Coursera and I'm not sure that the recent improvements to the COM campus will pay off in the long run..
Anne Lufrano Varner February 12, 2013 at 06:14 AM
More Classes at IVC need to be offerd. Lots of us don't drive to get to COM.
Harvey Abernathey February 12, 2013 at 06:07 PM
This is no surprise! The way that the administration communicates with their students is embarrassing! I have sent numerous emails to the staff about the spam type of emails that they send out to students, with "personal message" as the subject line and no introduction, links, logos or signatures. They look like the type of message that you get from the Nigerian spammers! Their online student portal program makes it almost impossible to register for classes without going to the admissions office for assistance. The teachers at COM won't use the student portals to communicate with students and set up their own websites. They should work with their students in the computer science programs to help them, as I am sure they could do a much better job.

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