Frequently Asked Questions

What is a community college?

A:

In Idaho, a community college is a higher education institution that provides 2-year degrees and technical education programs. It is governed by a local board of trustees and receives some support from local taxpayers.  Idaho currently has three: College of Southern Idaho (Twin Falls), College of Western Idaho (Nampa/Boise) and College of Northern Idaho (Coeur d’Alene).

Why do we need a community college in Eastern Idaho?

A:
  • Since the recession in 2009, the number of local job openings requiring some college has more than tripled, from 868 in 2009 to 3,843 in 2015.
  • Statewide, in the three areas with a community college, 23% of high school graduates go on to a community college. In Eastern Idaho, the number is only 5.8%.
  • A community college allows students to get college credits for $125/credit hour versus $348/credit hour at ISU or $170/credit hour at BYU-Idaho. That would be 65% less than ISU and 21% less than BYU-Idaho.
  • For a student taking 10 credits a semester, a local community college will result in savings of $2230 over ISU and $450 over BYU-Idaho. These savings will dramatically reduce the need for local students to incur expensive and burdensome student loans.
  • Community college students would be able to live at home in many cases, saving them and their families even more.
  • A community college will offer programs geared toward students starting higher education after high school, those returning to college and individuals who need to upgrade their employment skills.
  • A community college will expand opportunities for local high students to obtain dual credits, ie. credits that simultaneously count for both high school graduation and for college. Read the Post Register story on the issue here.
  • Community college credits will be freely transferable to other institutions.

What are the other advantages of having a community college?

A:
  • A community college will support more than 900 local jobs within 6 years.
  • A community college will spur $66 million a year in local economic activity within 6 years.
  • A community college will boost the ability of local employers, from those at the Idaho National Laboratory, local companies big and small and in the agriculture industry to obtain trained employees.

Don’t EITC, ISU and BYU-Idaho already fulfill the need?

A:
  • While those institutions offer some courses in the Idaho Falls area, the local offering are limited. That requires most to travel to either Rexburg and Pocatello which is a significant deterrent, both because of the time and the expense.
  • Also, while ISU and BYU-Idaho offer a range of courses, they are much more expensive than what a community college would cost. ISU is roughly 3x as expensive as a community college and BYU-Idaho is roughly 20% more than a community college. 
  • EITC is sharply limited in what it can offer. Under state law it can provide Associate of Applied Science degrees with limited transferability while a community college would offer fully transferable Associate of Science & Associate of Arts degrees. Point is that the limited courses EITC classes does offer do not freely transfer elsewhere.

What will be the impact on ISU, BYU-Idaho and the University of Idaho?

A:

Converting EITC to a community college will benefit ISU, BYU-Idaho and the University of Idaho by creating a pipeline of students into their programs.

In fact, when the Boise area created the College of Western Idaho (Idaho's most recent community college) in 2007, the effect was to strengthen Boise State University.

ISU has been involved in the discussion to create the new community college and has been positive as to the direct effect on ISU. 

President Arthur Vailas of ISU has stated:  “A community college pretty much takes care of a lot of the requirements of the first two years of a four-year degree, especially general education requirements. If a community college is created, we would certainly work in whatever ways we can to create a very smooth transition into our programs in Idaho Falls.”

ISU Provost Laura Woodworth-Ney has pointed out: "“We’re [ISU] excited . . about working with a potential community college partner."  

Learn more about the benefits for ISU here and here.

Similarly, BYU-Idaho sees a community college as provide benefits.  On April 25, 2017 BYU-Idaho released the following Official Statement:

“Brigham Young University-Idaho is pleased about the prospect of working with a community college in eastern Idaho. It would provide young people of our area with more educational opportunities and could even help prepare students to continue their education at BYU-Idaho. A community college also would be a particular benefit to locally enrolled BYU-Pathway Worldwide students who hope to pursue a college degree.” 

Finally, the University of Idaho's Executive Officer for the Idaho Falls Center has stated: "The University of Idaho is looking forward to the addition of a high quality community college in Eastern Idaho. We believe it will have an immediate impact on the go-on rate in this region as it will provide people a local affordable entry point to advanced education. A community college, with a unique focus on workforce development, will serve the needs of the growing industry in Eastern Idaho. As the state's land grant research institution, the University of Idaho looks forward to partnering with the community college to expand the much needed educational opportunities for the people in this region."

 

How much will it cost?

A:
  • This is one of the most compelling reasons to create a community college.
  • EITC’s current buildings can handle 4,000 students (it currently has 700). No other Idaho community college had that sort of head start.
  • The State of Idaho has offered $5 million towards startup costs. Once created a local community college would primarily be funded by student tuition & fees, liquor tax funds and state community college funding.
  • State law requires some local funding. The local requirement is a small increase in property taxes, estimated to be $13.37/year for the average homeowner in Bonneville County or a bit more than $1 a month. That is based on a detailed budget developed by a study panel last year that carefully reviewed EITC's historical costs plus what it would take to add in the academic community college functions. You can view that budget here (check out page 27).
  • That is roughly one-third what the average taxpayer pays for the county dump. A family sending one student to a community college for one semester would save 167 times that much (for a student taking 10 credits) over sending that same student to ISU. 


But, don't the opponents claim the cost will be much more?

They assert the cost will be 10x.  But, they have never prepared a budget justifying that nor did they participate in any of the meetings of the study panel which were open to the public. They point to two of Idaho's other community colleges, CSI and NIC, but fail to point out their higher costs are because local taxpayers have built extensive campuses (we don't need to do that with EITC).  They dismiss the fact that CWI in Nampa/Caldwell costs within a dollar of the $13.37 cost for our community college claiming that the CWI tax base is bigger. It is 6.5x bigger but CWI's student body is 6x what we expect here.  That means the tax base per student is equivalent.

Who will be in charge of the community college if we create one?

A:

 

 

This is one of the best reasons to create a community college. If we do, a five member board of trustees will be established to run the college. These trustees will be local residents and will be required to run for election regularly. As a consequence, the new College of Eastern Idaho will be shaped and directed by local people who are directly accountable to local voters. Learn more here.

Aren't online courses replacing classroom learning for college?

A:

Online learning is a key part of the college experience today. But, it is not a full replacement. Today, about 28% of college students take an online class, but most combine online with live instruction. BYU-Idaho's Pathways program is instructive. It is designed, like a community college, to get people onto a college track. Courses are a combination of online and live elements, including mentoring one-on-one in weekly face-to-face meetings. If we approve a new community college, expect to see live in-person instruction with online options. 

Didn’t we defeat a community college in 1991?

A:

In 1991 a ballot initiative failed, primarily because of the high cost then of building a campus. That proposal was more than 8x the cost of the current proposal at $125 per $100,000 in property value per year.  

Today, with EITC’s current facilities and the fact that Bonneville County's tax base has grown substantially, the cost is far, far cheaper at $15 per $100,000 in property value per year or $13.37 per year for the average Bonneville County homeowner.

Won't a community college cause problems with the corner at 17th & Hitt?

A:

That corner is busy but the problems with the traffic flow are about to be addressed. Idaho Falls & Ammon are spending $2.6 million to fix the intersection this spring. You can learn more about that effort here and here. Of note, the traffic associated with the College of Eastern Idaho will be but a fraction of the total local traffic in the area.

If a community college is created, will property taxes automatically go up each year?

A:

No. There is no automatic property tax increase for Idaho community colleges each year. In fact, Idaho law requires the locally elected board of trustee's to set the property tax levy each year by a vote in a public meeting. Opponents claim of an automatic 3% property tax increase fails to understand that that is a cap on increases. Further, even if a 3% increase did happen, it would amount to just 40 cents more per year for the average local homeowner. Thus, even if the local board of trustees ever year voted to increase by the maximum amount, it would take 16 years to get to $20 a year for the average Bonneville County homeowner.

Why a community college won't lead to the creation of a refugee center.

This assertion is simply wrong. No one associated with the effort to turn EITC into a community college has ever pushed or even suggested the creation of a refugee center. Since Eastern Idaho isn't a refugee resettlement area in the first place, there is no reason for such a center.

This claim seems to have its basis in that College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls has an associated refugee center. Legal refugees come to the Twin Falls area is because it is one of two places in Idaho that are designated for resettlement (the other is the Boise area). That center was created in the 1980s to originally deal with legal refugees from Laos, later from Czechoslovakia and today legal refugees from other places. The CSI center doesn't bring any refugees to the Magic Valley itself but provides services to those who do come in legally like English classes, shopping skills, initial clothing and furniture, etc. Religious organizations, including the LDS Church, provide aid to the center as you can see here.

Some may be mixing the CSI refugee center with a criminal case in the Twin Falls area where three juveniles pleaded guilty to a sexual assault on a young girl. It has never been established that they were refugees or that they had any link the refugee center. You can read about that matter here.

Idaho's other two community colleges, CWI in Boise/Nampa and NIC in Couer d'Alene don't have a refugee center. Nor, is there is there a need for more. Four non-profit groups cover the Boise area and the CSI center handles the Twin Falls area.   

 

 

 


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