Glendale Community College prepares for new funding formula based on student success

When the Glendale Community College board ratifies its budget, as expected, at the next meeting Sept. 11, the 91-year institution will begin a new era of funding, one that is based on student success rather than enrollment size.

The board held the first of two readings of the proposed 2018-19 budget earlier this month and the budget report focused on a few issues, highlighted by a new system called Student-Focused Funding Formula.

California community colleges receive their funding from a variety of sources, including state money, property taxes and enrollment fees.

The bulk, however, comes from the state of California, which for years has allocated money based on enrollment.

In June, the California legislature approved the landmark funding change, which will add student success metrics over a three-year, phased-in period.

“Overall, the formula that has been developed on the state level is valuable in that it encourages students’ success in their college efforts,” said David Viar, superintendent/president of Glendale Community College.

At the first reading, Anthony Culpepper, the college’s executive vice president of administrative services, laid out the formula, which will change during each of the next three years.

For the 2018-19 school year, 70% of state funding will be based on enrollment, 20% on low-income and first-generation student enrollment and 10% for student success.

The student-success portion only grows after this school year, while the enrollment total decreases. For 2019-20, the percentages are 65-20-15, while 2020-21 calls for 60-20-20, for enrollment, low-income attendance and student success, respectively.

The new student-success allocation awards points for the completion of transfer-level math and English classes within the first year of enrollment (two points), culmination of an associate’s degree for transfer (four points), an associate’s degree (three points), credit certificates of 16 or more units (two points) or attainment of nine career technical education units (one point).

The new formula also factors whether a student is able to attain a regional living wage within one year of school completion, which is worth a point.

One funding point is equal to $876.00 per student from the state.

There are also bonus or equity allocations for low-income and first-generation students, whose successful finalization would result in increases of $660.00 per point achieved.

So, a low-income student who earns an associate’s degree for transfer would net four points under the student-success category, totaling $3,504, and four equity points, adding $2,640, which combined would be $6,144.00.

While Culpepper said student success has always been at the heart of the school’s directives, he added that the legislature and chancellor’s office are more apt toward demonstrating that.

“The new funding formula is now intentionally targeting other attributes of the campus when it comes to the students we’re serving,” he said. “They are more focused on and they want to intentionally show that they want to give a portion of revenues based on how you’re successfully graduating your students.”

While there is some angst statewide as to whether colleges will lose money, the formula includes a provision that guarantees that no district will make less than it did during the 2017-18 school year, while each district will receive a cost-of-living adjustment.

While there is an emphasis on getting students transferring or graduating at a quicker pace, particularly low-income and first-generation students, Culpepper also said there is room for the casual student looking to pick up a skill without being part of a degree or certificate program.

“Even though the chancellor’s office is changing the funding formula to encourage community colleges to insure that students … get degrees, they are by no means trying to not encourage other students who just may take a class or two,” Culpepper said. “You can still do that here.”

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