Fall enrollment dropped nine percent from last year's all-time record, according to an enrollment report presented at the Sept. 15 meeting of the SWTJC Board of Trustees.
According to SWTJC Dean of Admissions Joe Barker, a total of 5,668 students are registered for fall classes, down from 6,241 a year ago.
"We expected enrollment to drop after a spike like we had last year," Barker said. "This year, with state and federal funding cuts, increases in tuition and fees, and stricter financial aid eligibility requirements, the decrease was larger than we expected."
Barker believes employment opportunities available this fall, as oil and gas drilling activity increases in the Eagle Ford shale formation south of Uvalde, also contributed to the decline in enrollment.
"There are some good jobs available that weren't out there last fall and there is no doubt some of our students decided to work instead of attending classes this fall," Barker said.
Fall registration at individual sites show Eagle Pass with 1,817 students, Uvalde with 1,477, Del Rio with 1,011, Crystal City with 243, Pearsall with 95 and Hondo with 77.
SWTJC Chief Financial Officer and Dean of Instructional Services Hector Gonzales advised the board on the impact the decreased enrollment will have on the fiscal year 2011-12 budget.
"Our headcount is down just over nine percent, but out semester credit hours are down nearly 11 percent," Gonzales told the board. "We budgeted for an 8.9 percent decrease in credit hours, so we will definitely have to make some adjustments to our budget."
Using the actual fall 2011 credit hour numbers to redo spring and summer estimates, Gonzales told the board the overall impact on the budget could be as much as $832,000 for the fiscal year.
"The good news is that we are early in our fiscal year and we have plenty of time to make adjustments," Gonzales said. "We will come back to the board in October with our plan on how to meet this budget shortfall."
In other business at its regular monthly meeting, the board unanimously adopted a 13 cent tax rate per $100 valuation and approved several changes to the college's investment policy.
Gonzales said the changes to the investment policy were being recommended to give the college more flexibility in trying to secure the highest possible interest rates on its investments.
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