students walking out of building

Impact Statement for the State Board

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom Overview

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom is part of Pierce College District, a community college district serving more than 24,000 students annually. Founded in 1967, the college now offers 38 associate degrees, 44 professional certificates and three bachelor degrees designed to prepare students for academic transfer and career success.

Points of Interest

  • Pierce College Fort Steilacoom was recently ranked No. 2 in Washington on a list of the top 35 two-year colleges in the nation that produce the highest paid workers.
  • Pierce College was named the top community college for veterans in the state by the Military Times – and No. 3 in the nation.
  • In the past three years Pierce College has improved its graduation rate by 65% as a result of student retention and completion efforts. This year, 3,846 students received certificates, degrees and diplomas.

Funding Challenges

For Pierce College, recent legislative budgets have required significant cuts and changes to operations. In the 2015-17 biennium, the legislature did not fully fund the authorized COLA increases for all state employees. Consequently, the college cut over $880,000 in services to make up for budget gaps from state funding. The college has embarked on intensive initiatives designed to close achievement gaps and increase completion of degrees and certificates. These initiatives are resource intensive and lack of funding will negatively impact our ability to further increase our graduation rates and close the achievement gaps among our students.

Puyallup Overview

Pierce College Puyallup is part of Pierce College District, a community college district serving more than 24,000 students annually. Founded in 1967, the college now offers 38 associate degrees, 44 professional certificates and three bachelor degrees designed to prepare students for academic transfer and career success.

Points of Interest

  • Approximately one in five students from Pierce County’s highest enrolled high schools attend Pierce College within one year of graduation.
  • CNNMoney.com named Pierce College the most successful community college in the state, based on the percentage of students who graduated or transferred to a four-year college. This past year, 1,188 Pierce College students transferred to 25 four-year colleges in Washington.
  • 17% of Pierce College Puyallup students are enrolled in Running Start which saves parents money, and gets students through college and into the work force quicker.

Funding Challenges

Pierce College Puyallup is in dire need of additional classroom space and modern STEM labs, as it is currently operating at 103 percent of its physical capacity and has no more room to serve additional students. The college requested a new 70,000-square-foot building, but the lack of capital funding has halted the opening of any new building in Puyallup until the 2021-23 biennium at the earliest. If Pierce College Puyallup’s growth rate continues at even half of what it has been, by 2023 there will be more than 700 additional full-time students to serve. This is an untenable situation that can only be rectified by additional capital investment. Otherwise Pierce College risks the prospect of turning away students.