North Idaho College has seen its funding burden shift more and more to its students, college President Priscilla Bell told Idaho lawmakers today. “As with most higher education institutions, NIC has experienced significant growth in enrollment over the past four years,” she said, even as state funding has dropped. NIC's for-credit student population has increased by 45 percent in four years; professional-technical education enrollment has grown “by a whopping 68 percent,” Bell told the Legislature's joint budget committee. Now, both student tuition and fees and local property taxes exceed state funding as a portion of NIC's budget.
“More and more, the funding burden is shifting to our students,” Bell said. “This is also reflected in our students taking on more debt. … We're very worried about the amount of debt our students are incurring, which on average, over the last few years, has doubled.” Bell said the typical NIC student now leaves the two-year community college with $3,200 in debt. “It is alarming,” she said. Her budget pitch to lawmakers today came as all three of the state's community colleges made their budget appeals; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.