Colleges Coping Despite Increased Demand, New Survey Shows
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Surging enrollments experienced by community colleges over the last three years have significantly moderated, according to a just-completed special report released today by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Enrollments at community colleges, the largest sector of higher education with close to 44% of all U.S. undergraduates, have increased for eight of the past 10 years, but the prolonged recession has spurred recent dramatic enrollment spikes. From fall 2008 to fall 2009, enrollments were up an average 11% nationally, and from 2007-2009 enrollments increased close to 17%, according to AACC research. Total enrollments have grown by 1.4 million students since 2007, when the recession began, bringing the total number of credit students to approximately 8.2 million students. Community colleges also enroll an estimated minimum 5 million non-credit students.
The new findings indicate that from fall 2009 to fall 2010 the total increase in enrollment was approximately 3.2%, equating to roughly 250,000 students. The new AACC data also suggest the colleges experienced a larger percentage increase in full-time enrollment than in part-time enrollment. Historically, two-thirds of community college students attend part-time.
Other significant findings suggest that community colleges have been able to meet increased student demand, despite persistent cuts in state and local funding driven by faltering state economies and competing demands on public coffers. Less than one-third of respondents reported that they were unable to serve all eligible students, with insufficient funding and limited physical capacity cited as the primary reasons.
The national survey, which was conducted by AACC in late October of 2010, received an overall response rate of 32%, with slightly fewer responses from smaller and more rural colleges. In several states, no colleges reported data, making the findings indicative but not conclusive.
The American Association of Community Colleges is a national organization representing the nation's more than 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling close to half (44%) of all U.S. undergraduates.
SOURCE American Association of Community Colleges