Quake Hurts Community College Enrollment

The Los Angeles Community College District suffered a 3.6% enrollment decline this spring because of the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake, with losses at two of its San Fernando Valley colleges much higher, district officials reported Wednesday.

Hardest hit among the district's nine campuses was Mission College in Sylmar, which has 10.1% fewer students than had been expected before the earthquake. Next were Valley College in Van Nuys, with a 6% drop, and Los Angeles Trade-Tech, with a 5.1% decline.

Enrollment had been expected to drop even without the earthquake, from about 106,000 students last spring to a projected 103,941 this spring. But officials estimated that the quake alone caused enrollment to fall to 100,145.

For Los Angeles and four other Southern California community college districts, the issue of trying to identify the impact of the earthquake--as opposed to other factors--on their enrollment could become an important financial issue.

Community colleges in California get most of their funding from the state based on the number of students they enroll. But for this fiscal year, the state Assembly has passed and the Senate is scheduled to consider urgency legislation to shelter the five districts from state funding cuts resulting from earthquake-related enrollment losses.

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