Our job is getting harder

According to this article from Time, college enrollment nationwide is trending down.  While our funding formula in Tennessee is no longer directly dependent upon enrollment, it's still better financially to have a student than to not have one.  Continuing education units will be pressured even more to deliver new students: adults, non-traditional, online, and out-of-state. 

Is the Recession Hurting College Enrollment?
Harvard, Yale and a few other selective universities may be announcing record numbers of applicants for the semester beginning in the fall, but higher-education officials are fretting about ominous signs that overall college enrollment is starting to drop.

More schools have space still available than at any time in at least a decade. Already, in the academic year just ending, many universities had to offer greater discounts just to fill seats. Yet fewer admitted students enrolled, and more than 40 percent of private colleges reported enrollment declines. Even community colleges — drowning in double-digit growth the past few years — experienced enrollment dips this year.

"We are seeing the beginnings of a cool-down," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

"Most of the apparatchik within higher education hope this is just a hiccup," Nassirian said. "But I tend to think we have pushed the envelope as far as we can and we are in for a major realignment of some kind." 

The warning signs come at a time when policymakers from the president to governors are pushing to increase the proportion of the nation's population aged 25 to 34 with post-secondary credentials, which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says has already fallen from first to 16th in the world.

While the number of students graduating from high schools has declined slightly since building to a peak of more than 3.3 million in 2009, the cause of the college enrollment drop-off is largely skyrocketing tuition and concern about debt, Nassirian and other higher-education officials said.

"I do think we've reached a tipping point in terms of what cost might do," said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC. "The cost of college is really beginning to alarm families. And that creates a real threat to enrollment."


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