Hampden County

Declining enrollment at Holyoke Community College could be causing financial troubles

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) - Holyoke Community College may be dealing with financial problems.

The 22News I-Team started looking into the issue after a viewer notified us about potential cuts.

According to the college's financial statements, enrollment has been steadily declining since 2014 and hopes to reverse that trend by finding jobs for their graduates.

In their most recent financial statement from their 2018 budget, HCC's revenue has been affected by continuing declining enrollment, stagnant state support, and a sharp drop in campus store receipts. 

Vice President of Administration and Finance Bill Fogarty said the school has already doubled their culinary program and grown their nursing program in recent years to meet workforce demands.

"So many institutions are in really bad shape right now, and they're just cutting," said Fogarty. "Our view is, you can't cut your way to greatness. You need to be looking at ways to reinvest your resources so you can start to grow in the future, and that's what we're doing."

According to the minutes from HCC's Board Of Trustees January meeting, the college is projecting a nearly $1-million budget shortfall, following declining revenue in their first quarter.

Holyoke Community College spokesman Chris Yurko told the I-Team, declining enrollment at community colleges isn't unique to HCC, it's happening across the state and the country due to the strong economy.

The I-Team did some research, and discovered enrollment has been steadily dropping at community colleges from New York to Illinois.

Yurko also said HCC has been anticipating and planning for these changes, as the economy has continued to grow.

He said HCC spent the 2017-2018 academic year creating a strategic plan that incorporates the changing demographics and declining enrollment, to achieve success.

The Board of Trustees also mentioned having a number of open positions due to retirements, which "may mitigate some of the revenue shortfalls."

They said they plan on watching the revenue in the second quarter of the year, to determine whether they need to take additional action to prevent the budget shortfall from getting larger.

Yurko told the I-Team, whenever someone retires or leaves a position, they strategically evaluate that position to determine whether it's still in the school's best interest to keep it. 

He said the college is planning a future that incorporates changes that will allow the school to grow, while also meeting student needs.

To read the college's strategic plan, click here.


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