Purchasing Consortiums and Merging Community Colleges Could Save $26.2 Million Over Seven Years (June 2011)

North Carolina’s 58 quasi-independent community colleges were established to meet community needs. Colleges range in size from 624 to 16,200 student full-time equivalents (FTE), and campuses are often located close to one another. This study examined the most efficient and effective way to administer the community college system and considered whether colleges should be consolidated. Findings indicated college independence challenges administrative efficiency, small colleges have higher administrative costs than larger ones, and colleges have not taken full advantage of their combined purchasing power. The General Assembly should consider merging small colleges and creating a purchasing unit. Adopting both recommendations could yield potential cumulative savings after seven years of $26.2 million.

Final Report

Executive Summary



Agency Actions:

  • The North Carolina Community College System Office has negotiated contracts for student assessment testing and data analysis capabilities for the colleges. In addition, the system office has initiated a partnership to simplify financial aid verification and processing. This partnership will be tested at five colleges. If the pilot is successful, colleges would be able to join a consortium that would enable elimination of significant hours of duplicative paper processing on local campuses, free up personnel to engage in financial aid counseling (loans, grants scholarships, etc.), and facilitate access to higher education by students. As resources permit, the system office enters into system-wide contracts benefiting the colleges. The largest such contract is the System’s contract with Ellucian for the licensing of the Computer Information System used by all 58 colleges. Other examples include contracts supporting the System’s distance learning infrastructure. Regarding the financial aid verification effort, 12 colleges participated in this initiative in FY 2014–15.