Community colleges see 8-percent enrollment increase|Hinds No. 14 of 15

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 21, 2008

From staff and AP reports

JACKSON — Enrollment in Mississippi’s 15 community and junior colleges is up 8.2 percent.

Eric Clark, executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, said preliminary, unaudited numbers show more than 73,200 students enrolled. He expects the figure to remain over 70,000 after auditing.

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Last year, the system enrolled about 67,700 students.

Itawamba Community College, which has campuses in Fulton and Tupelo, had the biggest increase — 15.4 percent. Raymond-based Hinds Community College, which operates a campus in Vicksburg, saw a 3-percent jump in enrollment, making it No. 14 on the list.

Coming in last was Northeast Mississippi Community College. The Booneville school saw a drop in enrollment of 1.3-percent.

Itawamba’s president, David Cole, said the school’s enrollment jump is because people have realized they need more skills and education for jobs such as those that will be available at the Toyota manufacturing plant planned for the Tupelo area.

Hinds’ Vicksburg Dean Hilton Dyar had said last week that an increase in enrollment had been noticed, and the reason could be tight economic times. Typically, when  the economy slides and fewer jobs are available, people go back to school.

Although enrollment is up slightly at Mississippi’s eight public universities, enrollment has dropped at five of those four-year schools.

Average tuition for two-year schools is about $820 a semester, compared to $2,370 a semester at universities.

Tuition at Hinds is $830 a semester.

In addition to its Vicksburg and Raymond campus, Hinds operates four other facilities.

The Vicksburg campus is located on Mississippi 27.