Aberdeen, WA – After a full review of the Grays Harbor College operation and financials, the local college received mostly positive remarks while some financial concerns were highlighted.
GHC was under review by an evaluation committee April 16-18 to conduct a “Mission Fulfillment and Sustainability evaluation” to look at the institution’s progress and plans related to enrollment, graduation, and loan default rates. This evaluation was requested by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
This evaluation follows a visit in 2014 to the campus.
GHC was granted initial accreditation in 1948.
During the recent evaluation, the committee compared documents and statements to confirm that they matched the mission statement. During the review, open meetings were held for faculty members, staff members, and students to voice their concerns or commendations.
During the evaluation, the committee compared documents and statements to confirm that they matched the mission statement. During the review, open meetings were held for faculty members, staff members, and students to voice their concerns or commendations.
Following a public records request, KXRO has reviewed the findings from the evaluation.
Concerns by the evaluation team include a number of finance related items. The team noted that the college has operated in a financial deficit for more than one year and is anticipating a significant deficit by the end of FY19, stating;
The report states that GHC receives roughly 44-46 percent of its operational revenues through state appropriation and the state-set tuition rates creates some inflexibility in projecting revenue streams which vary from year to year. The suggestion is that the college consider budget scenario planning to try to anticipate future revenue streams.” It also states that college leadership indicated that the institution is using the financial reserve to maintain operations and anticipates another year of deficit spending.
Following this concern, the evaluation team states that the college lacks comprehensive budget planning activities that consider non-tuition revenue sources.
They do note that efforts are being made to focus on revenue generation through increased enrollment.
Another concern includes the current and future potential of students going into default on payments.
“The Cohort Default Rate (CDR) was 24.8% in 2014 and has hovered in the 20% to 27.4% range for the previous five years. The College contracted with a consulting entity who followed up with students who were in default status, resulting in a lowered default rate for 2004-2009. However, since that time the CDR has again increased. Plans to manage the CDR include implementing a further financial literacy program next year, embedding more financial literacy in athletic and workforce programs, and conducting more in-person workshops.
Concern: The Evaluation Committee is concerned that the College has not developed a formal plan to decrease Cohort Default Rates.”
Later in the report, the evaluation team complemented the college on efforts to secure funding for students, acknowledging continued efforts to improve its processes to better serve students and said that the next cohort default rate is predicted to be significantly lower.
Other concerns include the fact that a number of students attend for specific re-training or classes and leave before obtaining their degrees.
The college stated that they would look to other institutions and implement best practices to amend these concerns.
Another concern noted was in their Finance department, stating that the College has policies in place outlining a number of financial areas, although those policies have not been reviewed in several years, and in some cases for over ten years.
The college met the criteria in the vast majority of evaluation areas, and was complemented on a number of items. This includes continuing education for the local area.
The Evaluation Committee found that Grays Harbor College is in the midst of relatively rapid changes in response to new leadership and regional demographic and workforce trends.
The highlight complement of the report is in regards to the regional higher-than-average unemployment rates, changing industry base, and the increase of Hispanic population, with the evaluation team stating that 40% of the Aberdeen’s K-8 students are Hispanic.
Commendations and Recommendations
The Evaluation Committee identified the following commendations and recommendations: