Texas lawmakers propose funding cuts to community colleges

Community colleges could face state funding cuts

Students at Texas community colleges might have some additional costs next school year. Texas lawmakers have laid out their draft budget recommendations that include a 5 to 6 percent cut to community colleges around the state.

For many students in and around the Abilene area looking to earn a college degree, Cisco College is the cheaper alternative.

"It's a good way to start your education because right now universities are pretty expensive, going to community college helps me to save a lot of money," said Cisco College student Tojo Rabe.  

But if the Texas legislature decides to cut state funding by up to 6 percent at community colleges the cost of classes could be going up.

Texas has a total of 50 community colleges that teach more than 725,000 students. That's more than half the number of Texas students enrolled in higher education.

"At Cisco College we would have to increase tuition and fee rates our tax base is the second lowest tax base in the state among community colleges therefore we have little other opportunities to get revenue other than tuition and fee revenue," Cisco College President Bobby Smith said.

Smith said in 2010 community colleges saw their greatest increase in student population ever, but state funding stayed flat.

"It hurt students because we did have to pass along that cost to the students," said Smith.

Now that community college enrollment has started to go back down, Texas lawmakers are considering cutting funding.

"We found some ways to cut some expenses. We can't do that forever," Smith said.

Smith said enrollment at Cisco College dropped 20 percent since that high in 2010. He said one way they were able to offset the lack of funding was to only offer minimal salary increases for professors over the last few years.

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