AC's Enrollment Boost: A Blessing and a Curse

Dean of Communications Ellen Green
Dean of Communications Ellen Green

by: Kristen Guilfoos
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Amarillo College is calling it both a blessing and a curse... Students are enrolling at record rates, but more people costs more money.

NewsChannel 10's Kristen Guilfoos reports on why officials are concerned they won't have enough of it to go around.

Officials at attribute much of the enrollment boost to President Obama's push towards community college... He's hoping an addition five million students will graduate by 2020.

But it comes at a time when many colleges, including AC, are already packed with people hoping to bounce back from this recession. Ask nearly any student and they'll tell you... Amarillo College is crowded, to say the least.

"Parking is all the way out to I-40... It takes 15 minutes to get from your parking spot to class... Only one desk in my classrooms has been empty... Everywhere there's just a ridiculous amount of people."

Dean of Communications Ellen Green says, "We have 1000 more students on campus right now than we did last year. In fact we have more students on our Amarillo College campuses than we've had in our 80 year history."

But there is a downside to that increasing enrollment. Dean of Enrollment Bob Austin says, "There is the potential for a budget shortfall next year."

Green says, "For the past few years the state has not kept up it's end of the bargain and we're getting less and less. It's becoming a huge concern."

Despite Obama's plan to pump $12 million into the community college system, some say it won't be enough.

Green says, "If we don't have the funding, what do we do? We may have to cap enrollment. We'll have to do something."

Capping enrollment is a last resort and they're hoping they don't have to go to that extreme, but it's on the table, along with other ways to cut back, including closing down several buildings in the summer and winter to save on heating and air conditioning.