Full-time equivalency is figured by dividing the combined total number of all credit hours students register for by 12. That is the enrollment number used by the Wyoming Community College Commission as part of the formula to determine state funding for each of the state’s seven community college districts.
The budget for this school year, approved by the NWC Board of Trustees in July, was cut by $227,000 from last year’s figures due to projected loss of tuition and fees from the anticipated enrollment decline.
“Roughly speaking,” said NWC Finance Director Sheldon Flom, “a 1 percent decrease in enrollment is about $70,000 in tuition and fees.”
Flom said the college won’t lose any state funding due to a decline in enrollment as long as other colleges in the state experience a similar decline. However, an enrollment decline likely will affect other areas of the college, such as housing and meals, he said.
Fox said he has contacted his colleagues at the state’s other community colleges.
“As of right now, everybody’s down” in enrollment, he said. “When the economy does better, enrollments tend to go down. In 2008-09, the economy took a dive, and enrollment went up. ... We think the economy is doing a little better.”
Fox noted that many students wait until the last minute to register, so he hadn’t lost hope that enrollment numbers would improve by the time classes start Aug. 26.
Fox said it is difficult to compare enrollment figures from the two years at this point, because the number of summer enrollment days decreased from three last year to two this year. The third one, in August last year, proved less productive, he said.
Several different strategies to increase enrollment are underway now, he said. One is to determine whether the drop is due to fewer new students planning to attend Northwest, or to fewer of last year’s students returning, or both.
“We’ve identified all the students who registered last year and did not graduate and did not flunk out, who have not registered for fall,” he said. “We have contacted them and invited them all to come back.”
In addition, “We’re making phone calls basically to every student we’ve had contact with and inviting them to go through the process to come to Northwest College. ... We’re letting them know they can still register.”
In another approach, “We’ve sent a letter to all parents of students who have been accepted but haven’t done anything, encouraging them to encourage their students to register.”
The message Fox said recruiters are stressing to parents and students alike is: There’s still time to sign up to attend Northwest College.
“We’re saying, ‘It’s not too late. You can still contact us, and this is what you need to do,’” he said.