The funding formula for Texas’ 50 community college districts has stayed virtually the same since 1973, while the state’s share of two-year schools’ total budgets has steadily declined from nearly two-thirds to less than one-quarter at a time when an ever-greater percentage of employment requires postsecondary education.

And despite the state’s breakneck 16% population growth during the 2010s, more than half of Texas counties (143 out of 254) lost population, affecting local tax bases that fund community colleges, which can vary widely, from as little as 2% to as much as 70% of a college’s total budget.

To attempt to solve this puzzle, the state legislature established the Commission on Community College Finance, comprising 12 community college administrators, business leaders and other stakeholders who are well-grounded in the mission, programs and finances of public two-year

In advance of the 2023 legislative session – what many are hoping will become a “workforce session” – it is essential to look at community colleges’ role in workforce development. It is also crucial that we examine why we place last among large states in the percentage of our population with postsecondary credentials.

To accomplish this, the Texas Legislature established the Commission on Community College Finance, which held its first hearings this week in Austin. Its mission is to craft recommendations for the Legislature to establish a state funding formula and appropriate funding levels to sustain viable community college education and training programs throughout the state.

This mission should also include looking at how Texas’ community colleges can partner with high schools, employers, and four-year colleges to build career pathways that lead to good-paying jobs. The

Texas public community colleges are funded differently than their four-year counterparts.

“Community colleges were formed by the taxpayers of an area, and so community colleges have tax revenue based on what those voters have approved,” San Jacinto College Chancellor Brenda Hellyer said.

The other two main portions of funding come from tuition and fees, and state appropriations. It’s been that way in Texas for about 50 years.

But Hellyer says it’s that last funding category that’s especially overdue for some rethinking.

“So the allocation between those three different sources has significantly changed,” Hellyer said. “At one point over those 50 years and for quite a bit of that time, community colleges were funded probably 65% from the state. Right now, that allocation is around 24 to 25% across the state for all community colleges. So [that’s] a big change, moving more

AUSTIN, TX – After nearly 50 years, Texas will examine the efficacy of community college state funding through the Commission on Community College Finance (SB 1230, 87-R).  The state’s funding formula for the 50 public community college districts has largely been unchanged since 1973, and state investments, as a percentage of the total community college budgets, have steadily decreased over the past several decades. Community college funding must evolve with the changing needs of Texas’ students, workforce, and employers in an economy that increasingly demands a postsecondary education.
A data-informed examination of state funding dynamics and workforce trends will ensure that community colleges sustain education and training programs responsive to the state’s workforce needs. In 2020, Texas community colleges were the source of 82 percent of Texas’ technical and career education

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board released its preliminary headcount for Texas schools in fall 2021, revealing an 11% loss of enrollment at Texas’s community colleges since 2019.

“Sadly, the pandemic has had a disparate impact on community colleges, and it’s hit everyone,” said Jacob Fraire, president of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC). “When we look at reductions in enrollment, there’s no pattern between urban and rural. Everyone saw reductions.”

Jacob Fraire, TACC presidentTexas’s 50 community colleges were granted a type of reprieve from its state legislature, said Fraire. Normally a drop in enrollment across the state would impact the entirety of state funding. During the pandemic, the Texas legislature did not reduce overall funding.

However, the state distributes funding biennially, using a formula that does take enrollment into consideration