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A person perusing Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board statistics on its Higher Education Accountability System website can’t help but notice that the Texas State Technical College West Texas stands apart from the crowd–again.  Please examine the image below, which lists the colleges in TSTC West Texas’s peer group, and compare the numbers between institutions (click on the image to enlarge):

TSTCs and Lamars Appropriated Funding per FTSE 130616

Just look at how TSTC West Texas snatched the lead from TSTC Marshall and then ran off with the title of the school costing the state the most in its peer group per full-time student equivalent (FTSE). In FY 2008, Marshall had $9,593 per FTSE to West Texas’s $8,886 per FTSE. Then West Texas made its move. FY 2009 saw TSTC Marshall with $8,680 while TSTC West Texas pulled ahead with $9,627. By 2010 Marshall was spending much less money per FTSE: $6,672. TSTC West Texas, on the other hand, climbed to $10,728. Then, TSTC left every college in its peer group choking on its gold dust. In FY 2011 Marshall was still its nearest competitor with $6,611 per FTSE, but West Texas had more than DOUBLE that rate with an impressive $14,718 per FTSE. TSTC West Texas boasted more than THREE TIMES poor Lamar Institute of Technology’s rate of only $4,152 per FTSE in FY 2011.

So, just how did the state manage to get this fiscal performance from TSTC West Texas? For one thing, TSTC West Texas’s appropriations stayed relatively flat over FY 2008 thru FY 2011.  If a state college is still getting a good chunk of money but it has  many fewer students, that translates to more money per student, and that’s precisely what happened in West Texas. Examine the images below:

TSTC West Texas GAA Appropriated Funding 2008-2009 130616

TSTC West Texas State Appropriations 2010-2011 Biennium 130616

As you can see in the images for the 2008-2009 & 2010-2011 biennium appropriations, the state gave TSTC West Texas pretty close to $15M a year over all four years: the monetary amount stayed flat.

On the other hand, the number of students did not stay flat. In fact, that number dived rather steeply. For now, let’s ignore annual unduplicated headcount (which dropped about 86%) and look solely at fall enrollment numbers (see my post “Will Fall 2013 Term Continue Downward Trend at TSTC West Texas?“). As I discussed in a previous post, the fall 2008 semester had 1,882 students registered, but fall 2011 only had 1,036 (although I can’t use it for this comparison, it dropped to 810 in fall 2012), an impressive drop of almost 45%. So if funding stays flat but student numbers head south–PRESTO–a higher amount of state funding per full-time student equivalent results.

So TSTC West Texas doesn’t look like it will lose first place for costing the state the most per FTSE anytime soon. Could it happen? Sure, its appropriation numbers are beginning to fall. From the 2010-2011 biennium to the current 2012-2013 biennium, they fell about $2.5M per year to about $12.5M. It looks like it’s going to fall well over a million more per year in the coming biennium, 2014-2015. See the images below.

TSTC West Texas GAA Appropriated Funding 2012-2013 130616

TSTC West Texas State Appropriations 2014-2015 130616

IF student numbers stay flat or even go up while the state money falls, TSTC West Texas’s ratio could begin to start falling in line with its peers. Both numbers are falling now, however.

TSTC administrators and the recruiters that work for them need to stop that student drop before anything can return to normal over there.