Press "Enter" to skip to content

Focus on other revenue raises questions

At a Michigan community college, revenue comes from a variety of sources. Local property taxes, the state appropriation, and student tuition and fees generate most of a college’s income. According to data collected by the State of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College had the third-largest “other revenue” collection among community college’s in 2019-2020.

By itself, that’s not terrible. This kind of revenue includes money the college takes in from non-academic activities. Activities like short-term space rentals to the community for activities, the Health and Fitness Center, and the rental of retail or restaurant space to vendors fall into this category.

The following table shows how WCC compares to other Michigan community colleges in terms of revenue sources.

Revenue Source State Ranking
Other Revenue 3rd
Property taxes 3rd
Total Operating Revenues 6th
Gross tuition and fees 7th
State Appropriation 11th
Personal Property Tax Replacement 12th

The fact that WCC ranks 3rd among Michigan community colleges for both property tax revenues and other revenues says a few things. First, WCC collects more property tax revenues than most community colleges do. WCC has a lot of community support. Second, WCC generates a lot of miscellaneous cash compared to other Michigan community colleges.

Other revenue isn’t funding instruction

The current administration proposes activities designed to increase this revenue even farther. (Like building a hotel and convention center and putting retail space in the parking lots.) But WCC already owns the third largest other revenue generation and the third-largest property tax collection among all Michigan community colleges. They also had the 6th largest total revenue in 2019-20.

In terms of expenses, WCC ranks 14th overall in terms of instructional spending. It ranks 13th overall in academic support spending, and 18th overall in student support services.

In other words, WCC is very adequately funded for its mission. The administration is focused on bringing in more cash, but they’re not spending it on their core mission.

The focus on Other Revenue generation isn’t to improve instruction. More likely, it is to close “funding gaps.” But considering WCC’s revenues and expenses, there shouldn’t be any funding gaps, unless there are lax spending controls in non-instructional areas.

So, the question for the Administration is, if WCC brings in more money and spends less on academics and student support than most community colleges, why does it need even more money?

Photo Credit: Pictures of Money , via Flickr