Kaci Meek, a 2011 Moffat County High School graduate, is one of 238 students enrolled at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig campus this fall. She plans to graduate in December with her associate’s degree in liberal arts and transfer to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Kaci Meek, a 2011 Moffat County High School graduate, is one of 238 students enrolled at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig campus this fall. She plans to graduate in December with her associate’s degree in liberal arts and transfer to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

CNCC enrollment down from last year

By the numbers ...

Colorado Northwestern Community College Craig campus enrollment:

• 238: Number of students enrolled as of Thursday

• 293: Number of students enrolled as of Aug. 26, 2010

• 85: Full-time equivalents as of Thursday

• 89.7: Full-time equivalents as of Aug. 26, 2010

• 510: Total enrollment for the fall 2010 semester

• 118.4: Total full-time equivalents for the fall 2010 semester

Note: 2011 numbers are unofficial. Numbers become official Sept. 8

Kaci Meek has a lot on her plate.

The 18-year-old Craig resident is taking 22 credit hours this semester at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig campus.

The average semester course load, she said, is 12 credits.

Her classes include psychology, chemistry, history and a course called “college student experience,” intended to teach students how to succeed in college.

She chuckled when she mentioned the last course because this is her last semester at CNCC.

“I just needed a quick one-credit class,” she said.

Meek is one of 238 students enrolled at the college as of Thursday morning, according to unofficial data. That’s 55 fewer students than a year ago.

Full-time equivalency units, or the number of full credit loads taken at the college, also have dropped. As of Thursday, the campus had 85 FTEs, unofficially; on Aug. 26, 2010, it had 89.7, said Gene Bilodeau, Craig campus vice president.

But, he added, the decrease isn’t a major concern. Enrollment numbers at the Craig campus usually fluctuate throughout the semester, he said, and the campus has until December to match or exceed its total enrollment from the 2010 fall semester.

And, unlike in the past, a drop in FTEs won’t impact the college’s budget, at least not as far as state funding is concerned.

Normally, the amount of state dollars the college gets is based on its enrollment, specifically, its FTEs. The more FTEs it has, the more money it gets.

But due to state budget issues, that formula is on hold, Bilodeau said, which means CNCC gets state funding at a flat rate.

“Unlike other entities in the state, we don’t have a built-in protection or built-in mandate that says we’re supposed to get a certain percentage of the state budget each year,” he added.

Enrollment still matters financially. CNCC, like other colleges, also receives money from student tuition and fees, which means attracting more students is still important.

Bilodeau said the new Craig campus can help with that.

“We have this brand new facility, which we believe will attract students,” he said.

Having a new campus makes financial sense in other ways. Instead of spending money on upkeep and maintenance on older buildings, officials can put those dollars to work in other areas, like faculty.

For instance, the college has hired a new science instructor and a new history and English instructor, Bilodeau said.

A new resident hall that’s scheduled to open by next fall also should help bring in more students, he added.

But bricks and mortar are only one part of the equation.

“We will look at taking the programs we have, stabilizing them, making sure they’re as robust as they can be and then look at what new programs we might bring on board that will attract students,” Bilodeau said.

Meek, a 2011 Moffat County High School graduate, falls into a different group; she’s one of the college’s locally-raised students. She plans to graduate in December with her associate’s in liberal arts, then transfer to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to study psychology and English.

As for why she decided to earn her associate’s at CNCC, she said it was a matter of convenience.

“I wanted to get my degree,” she said. “(CNCC has) the dual enrollment classes (and) it’s easier, cheaper.”

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