Amid Community College Enrollment Growth, Cooper Blocking $500 Million for New Buildings

Enrollment Increased In 53 of the State’s 58 Community Colleges, with Overall Enrollment Jumping 4.4%

Short-Term Workforce Programs Experienced a 9.4% Increase

Raleigh, N.C. — In 2019, the North Carolina Community College System saw a 4.4% growth in enrollment for the first time in nearly a decade, according to data released by the system this week. The increase comes after the General Assembly approved new funding for short-term workforce programs to narrow the skills gap seen across the state in high-demand fields.

Fifty-three of the Community College System’s 58 schools experienced enrollment increases, with short-term workforce education increasing by 9.4% and traditional academic programs at 3.8%. After nearly a decade of enrollment declines following the Great Recession, the growth of the state’s Community Colleges means more residents are obtaining an education and meaningful job training.

In 2019, General Assembly approved $500 million in construction funds for community colleges in the state budget. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the funding, preventing the schools from expanding and renovating to meet the needs of their students.

Gov. Cooper believes the state should borrow money and go into debt to expand these campuses. However, the General Assembly, thanks in part to the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund, approved a pay-as-you-go model which prevents the state from going into debt to fund construction projects. It also allows construction to begin quicker and prevents the state from paying $2.4 billion in unnecessary interest payments.

At a time when the Community College System is seeing unprecedented growth, Gov. Cooper should be supporting them, instead of preventing their expansion.

“This new growth proves there are many pathways to achieve success,” Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) said. “Community colleges are training the next generation of leaders in fields like transportation, manufacturing, and health care. We must ensure these campuses can continue to thrive.

“It’s time for Gov. Cooper to realize that his vetoes are hindering progress across the state.”

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