Today’s Economy is a Factor in Tri-County’s 12.4%
Enrollment Increase for Spring Semester
CONTACT: DR. RONNIE BOOTH, 646-1774
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/20/2009
(By Lisa Garrett)
PENDLETON --- The bleak state of today’s economy is one of the factors in Tri-County Technical College’s 12.4 percent increase in spring semester enrollment, said President Ronnie Booth. Accessibility and affordability also are playing key roles, he noted.
As of Tuesday, January 20, College officials report an enrollment of 5,413 students, as compared to 4,807 students in spring of 2008. In addition, Tri-County’s spring 2009 enrollment surpassed its fall 2007 enrollment of 5,223.
“Our surge in enrollment is definitely tied to the economy. Historically when the national economy is weak, enrollment at two-year colleges increases,” said Dr. Booth. “People are afraid of losing their jobs or they have lost their jobs. They understand that they need more education to stay competitive in today’s workforce,” he said.
As technology continues to transform the workplace, Tri-County is making its programs and offerings more responsive, accessible and diverse, said Dr. Booth. Tri-County has campuses in Pendleton, Anderson, and Seneca, in addition to newly added classroom space at the Watkins Community Center in Honea Path. Tri-County officials plan to break ground on Phase I (QuickJobs Development Center) of the Easley campus this spring.
The value of Tri-County’s tuition is definitely a factor in enrollment growth, Dr. Booth said. “Our students see the cost benefits of attending a two-year college.” Tri-County's tuition is $1,458 per semester for full-time students, but with lottery tuition assistance, valued at up to $900 for eligible full-time students, a student would pay a balance of only $558 for a semester.
“The irony is that when the demand is up, our state funding is down,” said Dr. Booth. “Even though we have a 12-plus percent enrollment increase this spring, our state funding has been cut by more than 20 percent in recent months. Our increased enrollment revenue doesn’t offset the budget cuts we took. We are still underwater in terms of the budget,” he explained.
“The good news is that enrollment, and consequently revenue, are up. If we hadn’t had this increase in enrollment, life would be very different at Tri-County,” he said. “But it doesn’t fill the hole we find ourselves in. The bottom line is we are doing more with less,” he said.
Tri-County is the second fastest-growing College in the state’s system of 16 technical colleges. Since 2002, Tri-County has experienced a cumulative growth rate of 27% and is the fifth largest College in the System.