College cancels degree programs; leaves students in the lurch

State budget cuts leave dozens of students at a local community college without a degree program.

HILLSBORO, MO. - Classes at one area community college came to an unexpected halt Friday.

Dozens of students at Jefferson College in Hillsboro were told their programs and classes were canceled indefinitely.

5 On Your Side's PJ Randhawa tracked down the college's president and found out what this means for students left in the lurch.

Zach Alley is one semester away from graduating with a biomedical electronics degree. So why doesn't he look happier? Well, he got the bad news on Friday.

"Turns out the whole program was canceled. So I had a couple classes I was enrolled in, and now I don't have them. so I can't finish the program," said Zach Alley, Jefferson Community College Student.

Turns out the college's biomedical electrical and fire science degree programs have been canceled due to budgetary reasons, potentially derailing the academic careers of dozens of students like Alley.

"The only way I can get my degree is to drive an hour-plus to [St. Louis Community College] or driving two hours to Jeff City. those are the only two places that offer the degree," said Alley.

One factor in the college's decision: enrollment.

"We really worked to try to identify areas that would do the least harm. We've never seen the kind of enrollment growth or pattern that we were hoping to see," said Dr. Raymond Cummiskey, President, Jefferson College.

Cummiskey also said the instructor of that biomedical program was partially paid by a federal grant, a grant that runs out this year.

Without it, he said, the college doesn't have enough money to pick up the cost for the teacher's salary. Impending state budget cuts are also a factor.

Cummiskey tells 5 On Your Side he's expecting $1.5 million dollars in cuts to next years budget. And that, he said, was also why these programs are being shut down.

"We just couldn't see a way around taking the kinds of cuts that are coming down from the state and not reduce some of the services we offer," said Cummiskey.

"How can we start a future if we can't get a degree in what we want to do?" said Alley.

Five on your side has learned there is help available for the affected students.

Specialized advisor, Darrel Kyle will be working with affected students.

He can be reached by email at dkyle5@jeffco.edu or by phone at (636) 481-3224

According to school administrators, students will have the option of either taking alternate courses to finish their degrees at Jefferson college, getting work experience that could be applied as college credit or transferring to another college all together.

Jefferson College BET-ETC Closure Announcement

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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