Nearly $12 million to be cut from community college funding
By: Sean E. Thomas
Gov. Eric Greitens has cut funding to higher education in Missouri by $82 million.
Nearly $12 million of this is to come directly from community colleges.
With recent studies showing direct correlations between higher education and the health and wellness of the community, some suspect that cuts of this nature may only lead to higher costs, monetary or otherwise, for Missouri citizens in the future.
“There’s a close relationship between how educated your workforce is and how the income in your economy grows and what kind of social outcome you get,” said Economics Professor Gail Heyne Hafer.
Hafer cites, specifically, trends in obesity, child poverty and smoking that have all occurred in higher percentages in communities where less access to state higher education is available.
These trends could lead to larger burdens on the community in the future in terms of healthcare and other forms of public assistance.
Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Paul Zinck said some faculty and staff had concerns, but the administration would be making every effort to make sure students at STLCC were affected as little as possible.
Zinck said that allocation of funds for certain programs would be under review but that this was part of a strategic plan the college was implementing concerning its budget moving forward and had nothing to do with the cuts from Greitens’ office.
This cut in funding for certain programs could mean cuts in funding for areas such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs or workforce development programs.
These are programs that are very often provided by both community colleges and state universities, according to Hafer, and are just as important to the success of some members of the community as a bachelor’s degree.
“Getting people some post high school education is in many instances as important as it is for another individual to get a fouryear degree,” said Hafer.
The cut in funding to state universities could also affect the university’s ability to offer stipends for graduate students which could mean less graduate students in a given program.
Less graduate students in a program mean less support staff for professors at those universities.
Less university support could make it harder for state schools to attract top tier professors.
“The first thing we always see people cutting is stipends for graduate students, which means there are fewer people working on research projects with faculty,” said Hafer.
A release from Zinck titled “Fiscal Year 2017 Budget-Reduction to State Appropriations”, states that “the amount of the cut for St. Louis Community College is $3,575,888 which begins immediately and impacts the current FY2017 general operating fund of the college.” Though Zinck assures that the college will minimize impact on students as much as possible, this will surely be felt across the campuses.
“When we lose state funding for higher ed(education) we lose lots of things that are going to have big costs down the road,” said Hafer.
Gov. Greitens himself is a recipient of some of the benefits of higher education.
After attending Parkway North High School, a public high school in Creve Coeur, Missouri, he received a scholarship to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Upon graduating from Duke he was named a Rhodes Scholar and went on to receive a Ph. D. from Oxford University.
“We’d have to talk to Gov. Greiten to actually know what he believes,” Hafer said.
“If he really believes that he did that all on his own or if he understands the extent to which circumstances that surround him made his education possible.
We succeed in education because we had a huge support system that made that possible.”