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Maine Technical College System

News Release
Enrollment in three-year-old Associate in Arts program jumps 42%

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

Enrollment at Maine's seven Technical Colleges is up 16.5 percent over last year, the largest enrollment increase in the Maine Technical College System's history, System President John Fitzsimmons announced today. In total, 7,639 students are enrolled this fall in one- and two-year programs — 1,085 more students than last fall. The total number of students enrolled in programs or taking credit courses is up 14 percent — topping 10,000 (at 10,041) for the first time.

All seven colleges are reporting double-digit growth in degree-seeking students. Increases range from 11 percent at Southern Maine Technical College in South Portland and Northern Maine Technical College in Presque Isle to 35 percent at Washington County Technical College in Calais and 22 percent at Central Maine Technical College in Auburn. Enrollment is up 17 percent at Eastern Maine Technical College in Bangor, Kennebec Valley Technical College in Fairfield, and York County Technical College in Wells.

"It is great news that more students are following through on their dream of going to college," said John Fitzsimmons. "It is also great news for Maine employers who will benefit from a higher-skilled workforce, and in the long run, great news for Maine's economy," he said.

Officials attribute the unprecedented growth to several factors, including the soft economy which is prompting more people to enroll in college to upgrade their skills and credentials ñ as well as deliberate steps the System has taken to make college more affordable and accessible.

In the past five years, the System's Board of Trustees has held tuition at $68 per credit hour — or about $2,040 a year. In addition, the colleges have added 43 new career programs in high-demand fields as well as the popular Associate in Arts transfer degree.

About forty percent of the enrollment growth systemwide is due to the Associate in Arts program — a liberal studies degree added in 1999. A core offering of community colleges, the degree provides students with a low-cost, accessible place to start college. It is particularly attractive for students who are still deciding on a career path, are unsure of their academic abilities, or can't afford four years at a more expensive college. This fall, 1,421 students are enrolled in the program — up from about 1,000 last fall.

The enrollment numbers are preliminary, and will change slightly by the official census date of October 15th.