For his dissertation, Billy Roessler, associate director of admissions and records for the Tarrant County College District (Texas), compiled data on enrollment and revenue for community colleges in the United States. Mining IPEDS data gathered for the National Center for Education Statistics, and following a method of classification developed by Stephen Katsinas of The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Roessler found that urban, suburban, and rural schools experienced public funding decreases in a disproportionate manner.
Tuition and fees have risen by a consistent 3 to 4 percent across the board, Roessler found, but public funding dropped more for rural and urban colleges than it did for suburban ones.
Broken out by state instead of geographic classification, public funding drops seem even more jarring.
In California, the average share of community college budgets coming from state appropriations fell from 60.3 percent in 1981 to 32.9 percent in 2001.
Looking at the data together uncovers doozies like this one: In 2001, community colleges in five states received an average of 50 percent or more of their budgets from state funding--compared to schools in 22 states in 1981.
Says Roessler, who is in the process of getting the dissertation on funding trends for two-year colleges published: "I put some numbers and data to what people have been saying." --C.M.F.