Laura Leslie’s coverage of the new NCCS policy change that forces community colleges to enroll illegal immigrants charges that “it’s also worth pointing out that the numbers put out by the right are just flat wrong.”
While we can’t vouch for ALIPAC, Civitas’ analysis suggests that the cost esimates put out by President Lancaster and the NCCS are misleading. This is not to say that they are “flat wrong,” but only right from a certain perspective –- that is, only when General Fund spending is included and general obligation debt is not.
President Lancaster claims that “to attend a community college as an undocumented immigrant, these students will have to pay $7,465 per year as full-time curriculum students, which is $2,090 more than the legislature gives the community college to educate a full-time student. Therefore, there is no state subsidy for these students to attend community college.”
Lancaster chooses his words very carefully when he says out-of-state tuition is “$2,090 more than the legislature gives the community college.” His numbers only include General Fund spending for community colleges. He thus omits local appropriations altogether, which account for 13 percent of funding for the community college system. More important, Lancaster omits statewide and local general obligation bonds devoted to community college needs. Currently, there are $850 million of outstanding statewide general obligation bonds ($250 million passed in 1993 and $600 million in 2000) dedicated to the community colleges. This number does not include millions of dollars of local obligation bonds, such as the $92 million bond referendum for Wake County Technical Community College passed by Wake County voters in October 2007.
The numbers being used by the community college system regarding enrollment are also inconsistent with data in the 2006 American Community Survey. Stay tuned for a fact sheet from Dr. Bob Luebke that will explain this issue in more detail.