Making the tough decisions

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Last week, Beaufort County Community College announced it was facing a 10-percent budget cut, with $1.1 million less in state funding for the 2017-2018 year.

The declining state funds are the result of declining full-time equivalent student enrollment at the college. This trend can be largely attributed to BCCC’s decision to stop participating in the Federal Direct Student Loan program as of July 2015, as well as an overall population decline in the service area.

By next school year, BCCC is forced to cut at least 11 personnel positions, not to mention the budget cuts in every department. In a situation like this, it’s easy to point fingers. Yes, the college is cutting jobs, and yes, part of that is the result of its decision to stop the loan program. There’s more to the story, though.

In 2014, BCCC had a student-loan default rate nearing 30 percent, which is the threshold where other sources of funding begin to withdraw. It was not an easy decision, and the students who relied on that program were left at a loss. It’s certainly not a good situation and not one to be taken lightly.

However, the important thing to remember is what could’ve happened if the loan program continued. BCCC stood to lose out on other funding — some of which essentially keep the doors of the college open.

With cuts in education at all levels, there is no “good” decision to make. Rather, officials are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and they have to determine which outcome would cause the least damage. All parties involved are still seeing the ripple effects of that decision, as evidenced by the latest cuts.

Before tossing around accusations, try to look at all sides of the situation. It can’t be chalked up to bad management or a lack of empathy. That reasoning isn’t accurate, and it simply isn’t fair.