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Enrollment on the Rise as Economy Declines

When the economy takes a dive, it can be be hard to stay optimistic about your options. It seems like a lot of people are managing, however, because according to Connecticut's Hartford Courant many public colleges and universities are expecting record enrollment numbers in the coming year. Of course, for every up there is a down, and here the down is that public schools are worried whether or not they will have the funds to support the fresh influx (what with the economy and all).

"Because of the economy, we think we're more of an affordable option," said James E. Blake, the executive vice president for finance and administration at Southern Connecticut State University. "The trick is going to be to see if we have the resources to actually meet that demand.

"Like other state agencies, community colleges and state universities have already instituted hiring freezes and restrictions on travel. They have already lost some state funding and expect that even bigger cuts are on the way, possibly up to 10 percent of aid in the coming fiscal year.

Officials are forming task forces, soliciting ideas on how to identify savings and new revenue, and contemplating how to keep a rising population of students from feeling the effects of the cuts. It's still early in the planning process, but options under consideration at some schools include increasing the expected enrollment to boost tuition revenue and eliminating smaller classes.

One of the biggest fears among the officials is maintaining the quality education they pride themselves upon while at the same time cutting costs. Will the colleges be able to successfully open their doors to a flood of new students, or will they decline along with everything else? Hopefully it's the former, but only time will tell.

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