I. Operations

Program: Community college operations


All from GF/GP:




Program Description:

This appropriation funds the operational costs of Michigan’s community colleges.  Michigan’s 28 community colleges provide the following: (1) low-cost courses for students planning to obtain a bachelor’s degree, (2) courses for those who wish to have special kinds of technical skills in business, industry or other fields, and (3) programs to serve the direct educational needs of the community where the college resides.  Fewer than 200,000 students are currently enrolled full-time in community colleges throughout the state, a 3.4 percent drop since the 1984-1985 school year.[3]

For the fiscal year 2002-03, individual community college appropriations totaled $315,504,216.  The specific appropriations according to Act 161 of 2002 are:

Alpena Community College


Bay De Noc Community College


Delta College


Glen Oaks Community College


Gogebic Community College


Grand Rapids Community College


Henry Ford Community College


Jackson Community College


Kalamazoo Valley Community College


Kellogg Community College


Kirtland Community College


Lake Michigan College


Lansing Community College


Macomb Community College


Mid Michigan Community College


Monroe County Community College


Montcalm County Community College


C.S. Mott Community College


Muskegon Community College


North Central Michigan College


Northwestern Michigan College


Oakland Community College


St. Clair County Community College


Schoolcraft College


Southwestern Michigan College


Washtenaw Community College


Wayne County Community College


West Shore Community College


Recommended Action:

While public support for higher education might be better accomplished by converting from direct funding to a system of tuition vouchers or tax credits, such a plan may not be politically feasible at this moment.[4]  But it would give institutions of higher learning a stronger incentive to contain costs and to make sure that as many resources as possible are dedicated to serving students’ educational needs.  There are, however, some immediate steps that the Michigan Legislature should take to deal with escalating costs.

During tough economic times there is no legitimate reason to exempt community colleges from the same budget discipline that families and state bureaucracies must face — especially since fewer full-time students attend community colleges than in 1984.

The Mackinac for Public Policy recommends using fiscal year 1985 as a base year and indexing future higher education spending to enrollment plus inflation.  It is in this year that spending on higher education begins to increase most dramatically.  Doing this would mean spending only $263,500,124 on community colleges in fiscal year 2004, $52 million less than in the previous year.  If lawmakers do not judge such a proposal to be politically advantageous, however, spending could be rolled back by half of this amount for the time being, or $26 million in fiscal year 2004.  The cuts could be distributed to universities in proportion to the size of their current appropriations.  The cuts could be distributed to universities in proportion to the size of their current appropriations.  In future fiscal years, the Legislature should continue a spending rollback until universities are receiving an amount equal to 1985 fiscal year dollars plus inflation and enrollment.

Proponents of dramatic spending increases may argue that a simple analysis based on enrollment and inflation ignores such factors as the cyclical nature of enrollment, the impact of increased program demands, and the increased costs of technology.   While these factors affect funding needs, it is interesting that they always seem to drive overall costs upward.  Where are the savings from better technology in college operations and administration?  Why must funding increase when enrollment declines?  Legislators and citizens should place a high burden of proof on community colleges to justify demands for increased funding.  Savings: $26,002,046.