The Sad Tale of Roxbury Community College

The Globe‘s Adrian Walker has been all over Roxbury Community College this week, dinging them for failing to properly deliver financial aid to their students, to take advantage of the business community’s offer to start a job training program (which eventually ended up at Bunker Hill Community College), and to properly report its crime statistics.

These revelations are a shame, given the leadership role that RCC could play in the revitalization of the area. But for long-time observers, RCC has long been held to a much lower standard than other public entities. Back when I was at Administration and Finance in the mid-2000s, it was a running joke in the budget office about when the last time RCC had submitted its information (as almost every other entity in state government did in a timely fashion).

And the issue around financial aid brings back bad memories from the ’90s when RCC had to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars to the federal government after it was found that aid payments were being processed for students who did not qualify.

The current financial aid snafu is a serious one, affecting approximately 1,400 students (against an enrollment base of 2,626).

RCC has long been criticized for its weak graduation rate — it was 6 percent in 2010 for students within 150 percent of “normal time” to program completion. And a pattern of weak financial controls appears to be persistent. And we are not talking small change here — the state kicks in roughly $10 million per year with more than $18 million per year coming from additional sources.

With many at the state focusing on community colleges for workforce development, RCC’s students and Massachusetts taxpayers deserve better.


Crossposted at Pioneer Institute’s blog.