The City College of San Francisco’s struggle to retain its accreditation has led to a rapid, roughly 27 percent decline in enrollment that is threatening its state funding.

“Students thought, ‘Oh if I go there it might close in the process, or my courses might not be counted’,” said Jeff Hamilton, the school’s press liaison.

Hamilton said CCSF has made strides in fixing the problems the accreditation commission identified. Now it just needs its students back.

“I think the place has stabilized a lot in the last two years, we’ve fixed about roughly 90 percent of the identified issues, and there’s some significant ones to finish, but we’ve done a lot of work,” he said.

After CCSF’s accrediting body voted to yank the college’s accreditation in 2013, citing a lack of internal oversight, ineffective administration and student services, and poor fiscal planning, the school entered into extensive negotiations.

Though it now has until 2017 to remedy the conditions the accreditation commission pointed out, by late 2013 plummeting enrollment had already cost the school about $14 million since 2011.

At this point, CCSF has seen a drop in enrollment of about 9,000 full time students since 2013.

Tom Temprano, who is running for CCSF board this year, characterized enrollment as a priority issue. To make his point he’s enrolled in a photoshop class at CCSF.

“One of the reasons I’m running is because the current board isn’t talking about it,” he said.

Because the state allocates about $5,000 of funding per full time or equivalent student, that drop could cost the school roughly $32 million.

The state has allocated interim funds to cover the loss for two years to help enable the college to address the problems identified by the accreditation commission. If the college can’t bring its enrollment back up by then, it will have to make do with a lower funding level.

To dodge that outcome, the school has launched a year-long, million-dollar campaign to attract 25,000 new students by promoting new classes like motorcycle maintenance, hacking, and printmaking. Temprano said the outreach needs to be more comprehensive, not just a paid advertising campaign — reaching out to SFUSD students to enroll, for example, or offering recurring training for city workers at CCSF instead of hiring outside contractors like the city does now. 
So far, the college has seen a jump of between two and five percent since the last school year, which amounts to somewhere between 300 and 600 students campus-wide.