State funding for Iowa’s community colleges has dropped while enrollment has grown dramatically, which means increased reliance on student tuition and fees, according to a report released Thursday by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.
State funding for community colleges held steady during the 1990s but showed a net decline over the past decade. The adjusted-for-inflation decrease in state funding — a 21 percent drop from 2001 to 2012 — came at a time when enrollment increased by more than 60 percent, according to the report.
That means rising tuition for students and their families, rising debt burdens, and the possibility of needed education being out of reach for some Iowa families, said Andrew Cannon, research associate for the Iowa Policy Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy and research organization in Iowa City that is part of the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.
“Perhaps lawmakers have lost sight of the critical role that community colleges play in Iowa’s economy,” he said. “The revenue picture has really become unbalanced … and now relies heavily on tuition and fees.”