C.O.S . Officials: Huge Spike in Enrollment

September 22, 2008 8:08:17 PM PDT
One South Valley college is bursting at the seams and the latest version of the state budget isn't helping ease the pain.College of the Sequoias in Visalia is trying to make up for a lack of funds. Officials are glad the state budget is close to being signed but it doesn't bring with it much financial relief for the college and it's close to 13,000 students that are enrolled this year.

Robert Bruyneel's story is one you hear a lot at the College of Sequoias in Visalia. Robert Bruyneel, a freshman, says "Right after I got my high school diploma I tried to find a job in Tulare County but nobody was hiring because the economy is bad." Bruyneel is hoping a degree will help him get ahead in the job market.

Bruyneel says "Definitely the more education, the more power you have and the more doors that are open in the employment field."

C.O.S. officials say they're seeing a huge spike in enrollment compared to last year. Enrollment is up 15% with the number of units being taken up 15.5%. Officials say more students are going to school full-time which means they're taking more classes.

But while C.O.S. is gaining 15% more students, this year's budget only covers a 2% enrollment increase. C.O.S. President Bill Scroggins says they've had to dip into $2 million dollars in reserves just to cover the costs for each new student.

Bill Scroggins says "You've heard the governor talking about a rainy day fund. Well, it's life for us to set aside money for a rainy day fund because these cycles already recur."

The school also had to pay about $15,000 in interest from loans for every month the budget was late-just to pay staff salaries. Scroggins says they don't mind dipping into reserves if it means meeting the demand from students.

Ornisha Warren, a sophomore from C.O.S. says "I need to get my degree I can't just be working fast food." Freshman Latrice Murphy says "There are a lot of older people so a lot of people are going back to school."

Students say they're anxious about what the job market will be like when they leave school. They hope the degree or certificate they'll have in their hands will be enough to help them.

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