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Cuesta misses its target enrollment goal

Cuesta College increased its summer enrollment but failed to meet a target needed to trigger additional state funding. The college will try again this school year.

The college was hoping to shift its status from small to mid-size by boosting its enrollment numbers, which would allow it to qualify for $3.3 million in additional revenue over a three-year period.

“This does not dramatically impact our budget this fiscal year,” President Gil Stork said in a news release. The money, he said, was intended to be used as a cushion should additional state cuts occur if Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax measure does not pass.

The college will face a $2.8 million budget cut in January if the measure fails.

“The impact on our students will be devastating,” Stork said.

To hit the target for increased funding based on enrollment, the college needed to reach 9,236 full-time-equivalent students by June 30.

Despite more than doubling the number of classes offered during the summer session to 275 from the 110 in 2011, the college fell short of its goal by about 80 full-time-equivalent students.

For each full-time-equivalent student, the college receives about $5,000 in funding. The college missed the target because a large number of students dropped courses during the summer, and the enrollment count for the 2011-12 school year had to be readjusted.

Stork said college officials are still evaluating what led so many students to drop courses during the summer. Stork said the date for students to decide whether they were going to keep or drop a class was moved up, which might have been a factor.

The state funds community colleges for students based on a formula that calculates the number of students enrolled, the amount of class time for each student and the number of weeks attended during the school year.

Cuesta College is now labeled a small college, which means it enrolls no more than 8,629 full-time-equivalent students — or about 11,000 students. The college reached mid-size college status in 2008, but because of state budget cuts, it cut courses and enrollment numbers declined. This summer’s heightened enrollment, about 650 full-time-equivalent students, can be applied to Cuesta’s 2012-13 school year. “Even if it didn’t help us this year, it will greatly help us for next year,” Stork said. The college plans to seek the status again in the 2012-13 school year, but Stork said if additional state cuts happen in January, the college will be forced to offer fewer courses and class sections.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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