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Community College Enrollment Growth Slows

Enrollment growth at community colleges slowed this fall, rising just 3.2 percent, dramatically less than the 11 percent and 17 percent increases of the previous two years, according to a new survey by the American Association of Community Colleges. Overall, community college enrollment rose to about 8.2 million students, compared with about 7.7 million in the fall of 2009.

Fulltime enrollment increased more than part-time enrollment, which usually represents about two-thirds of community colleges’ enrollment.

Although most of the colleges responding to the survey said they could accommodate all of the students who sought enrollment, the association estimated that the slow growth was greatly influenced by California. A huge state budget deficit in the state has led to corresponding trims in college budgets, resulting in many schools capping their enrollments. Thus, fewer students were enrolled in community colleges there this fall than enrolled the previous year.

Other colleges attributed the smaller growth to lack of physical infrastructure to house additional studies, as well as shortages of funds to add more classes.

In other community college news, an interim report on the Lumina Foundation’s “Achieving the Dream” initiative found that the program – designed to improve outcomes for low-income and students of color attending community colleges – found it had a limited impact.

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