The economic recession that started almost two years ago has had a dramatic impact on community colleges throughout Virginia. The 2009-2010 academic year was record-breaking for Virginia’s Community Colleges with an enrollment surge felt across the entire state. The increased pressure from an economic downturn is being attributed as the major force behind the spike in student enrollments throughout the Virginia community college system.
“This is great news that should be embraced and celebrated across Virginia,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “There is a clear and present need to increase the number of postsecondary graduates in our commonwealth and in our country. More and more people are hearing that call. They are seeking opportunity at their community college. We are proud to be serving them.”
With motivations ranging from taking advantage of the unique guaranteed transfer agreements Virginia’s Community Colleges hold with more than two-dozen universities to acquiring the necessary knowledge to launch a new career after losing a job, some 281,243 people enrolled last year. That official annual headcount enrollment official represents:
- an increase of 18,799 students (7.2%) over the previous academic year (2008-09);
- an increase of 31,948 students (12.8%) over the past two years (since 2007-08);
- an increase of 49,678 students (21.5%) over the past five years (since 2004-05) and;
- an increase at 22 of Virginia’s Community Colleges.
The five fastest growing Virginia Community Colleges, in terms of headcount over the past year, include Dabney S. Lancaster (19.1%) in Clifton Forge; Wytheville (18.2%); Tidewater (13.3%); Lord Fairfax (10.8%) in Middletown/Warrenton and; Patrick Henry (9.6%) in Martinsville.
The rising enrollment comes amidst historic state budget cuts for Virginia’s Community Colleges, which have lost $64 million in funding since 2008 – a figure that is projected to grow to $105 in FY2012. As a result of these pressures the The State Board for Community Colleges unanimously approved a tuition and mandatory fee increase of $7.50 per credit hour. The State Board plans to use federal stimulus money to offset tuition increases over the next two years.