As of Jan. 9, Grand Rapids Community College’s projected headcount for the winter 2017 semester was 13,331. This number is 1,134 less than the fall 2016 semester, which had a headcount of 14,465. The final headcount will not be taken until Jan. 19.
“That exceeds our budget projection,” said Lisa Freiburger, Vice President for Finance and Administration. “But it is above what we incorporated into our budget, which is good news for the institution.”
GRCC’s billing units (which is a value of measurement that is used to measure service or product usage), as of Monday, were at $124,823. That number is not final yet, and will continue to move. It is still down compared to last year’s winter semester. Freiburger added that GRCC budgeted for a decline, so they are fully prepared to manage it and will continue to monitor the expenses. They will continue to monitor it going forward.
“Our next question, from a budgeting standpoint, is enrollment for the following year, as we begin to plan and budget for the 17-18 year,” Freiburger said.
She said that she thinks the main cause of the drop is that as the economy continues to get better, more students are seeking employment, and are having to choose between employment and school.
“In general, our enrollment tends to be counter with the economy,” Freiburger said. “So as the economy gets better, our enrollment tends to decline, and vice-versa.”
A report from GRCC’s Institutional Research and Planning shows that over the past 10 years, enrollment has not had a major change in the number of students since 2009. In 2009, there was a 10.1 percent increase in headcount, and a 12 percent increase in billing units. Since 2010, there’s been a slight decrease in billing units and headcounts every year, ranging between 1 and 7.7 percent of a decrease for both categories. Another report also showed a more detailed view of enrollment statistics over the past school year.
Though it appears that numbers are continuing to drop, Freiburger said that the college is working hard to bring enrollment back up.
“Our enrollment and admissions area are working diligently to provide information, to do outreach into high schools, and across our service areas, they are very much on top of recruitment and retention,” Freiburger said. “We want students here to be successful and to continue to be until they reach their goals.”