LBWCC enrollment one for the record books

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 2010

LBW Community College is experiencing record-breaking enrollment numbers, officials said earlier this week.

Total enrollment for fall semester is 1,912, which is a 6.8 percent increase from last year. The number could increase as late enrollments are processed, making this the highest enrollment in the school’s 45-year history.

The figure includes enrollment at Andalusia, Opp, Greenville and Luverne campuses.

Carla Wallace of Andalusia; PJ Leto, Tampa, Fla.; Ashley Barbaree, Opp; Gillian Crayton, Opp; Rolando Pereza, Tampa; Kayla Walker, Andalusia are among the 1,912 student attending LBWCC.

“All of our campuses have higher enrollment than last year, except Greenville (who saw) a slight decrease as a result of lower dual enrollment numbers,” President Dr. Herbert Riedel said. “MacArthur Campus in Opp also has a record enrollment with 662 students, up 19 percent from last year.”

This year’s enrollment breaks the former record of 1,813 set in 1992, and continues the trend of increased enrollment each year for the past five years.

One reason for increased enrollment numbers is the economy and the availability of financial aid, LeMaire said.

“Traditionally, you do see enrollment up at all college and university levels during times of higher unemployment or poor economic conditions,” Dr. Judson Edwards, an economist and dean of Troy University’s College of Business, said.

“The availability of financial aid is vital – allowing students to advance their education when they do not have financial means to pay while unemployed.”

LBWCC’s Director of Marketing Renee LeMaire said the college saw a significant number of financial aid inquiries for fall semester, which she estimates to be about twice the number as this time last year.

“As is often the case when the economy takes a downturn, colleges across the nation experience increased enrollment, including LBWCC,” she said.

LeMaire said the college is seeing an increasing number of older students who are taking advantage of the opportunity to go back to school and begin a college education, complete a degree or learn new skills to facilitate a career change.

And that’s something Edwards said isn’t surprising.

“This is not only the case for students seeking their first degree, but for college graduates attending graduate degree programs (or other technical programs) during difficult economic times,” he said.

LeMaire said in the 2009-2010 academic year, LBWCC students receiving Pell Grants increased to 29 percent from the previous year, and they expect those numbers to be even greater this academic year.

“Fall semester classes are already under way,” she said. “Students should start the application process now to apply for federal student aid for the next semester.”

LeMaire said the annual amount for a full Pell Grant is $5,550 for qualified students, making funds available for tuition, fees, books and living expenses.