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News Release—revised

Maine's Community College Enrollment Surpasses 11,000: Up 48% in Four Years

The number of students enrolling directly from high school increased 57% since community colleges established four years ago

But funding constraints are slowing growth, says Fitzsimmons

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

CONTACT: Helen Pelletier at (207) 767-0116 x 3;

AUBURN, ME— Enrollment in Maine's community colleges has grown 48 percent—to 11,153 students—since the Legislature changed the name and mission of the former technical colleges four years ago. As a result, 3,635 more students are seeking degrees at one of the seven colleges in 2006 than were enrolled in 2002, the year before the community colleges were established. Governor John Baldacci joined MCCS President John Fitzsimmons in making the announcement today, following a meeting of the MCCS Board of Trustees at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

President Fitzsimmons also announced that the number of students entering directly from high school has jumped 57 percent during the same four-year period. (The numbers are preliminary, but are not expected to change significantly by the official census date of October 15th.)

In helping to announce the enrollment numbers, Governor Baldacci, who led efforts to create the community college system in Maine, noted: “Our community colleges have more than lived up to their potential. They are one of Maine's real success stories, and our goal is to continue to build on that success. Their programs represent the heart of the Maine economy and the best hope for the future of Maine people.”

Despite the continued growth of the System, Fitzsimmons noted that financial constraints have begun to slow enrollment increases. Systemwide, enrollment grew by 4.4 percent this fall and some programs have been forced to establish lengthy waiting lists for admission.

“I am enormously proud of the work of our faculty and staff to serve 48 percent more students with only a 10 percent increase in state funding. The success of the System rests on their shoulders. We are concerned that without additional state investment, we will be forced to cap enrollment next fall.”

Adding faculty and staff, as well as updating and expanding college facilities, are the major challenges before the System, said Fitzsimmons.

College Enrollment Highlights

Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield experienced the largest enrollment jump this fall: a rise of 8.6 percent, to 1,429 degree students. Southern Maine Community College in South Portland continued its rapid growth; its enrollment grew by 6.8 percent, to 4,690 students. Central Maine Community College in Auburn rose 4.3 percent, to 1,714 degree students. York County Community College in Wells and Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor also experienced increases — of 3.6 percent (to 694 students) and 2.8 percent (to 1,499 students) respectively.

Enrollment at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle declined slightly, by 1.5 percent (to 794 students), although enrollment in the college’s incoming class shows an increase over last year's entering class. Enrollment at Washington County Community College declined by 15 percent (to 333), due in part to a decrease in the number of dislocated workers seeking retraining.

MCCS Attracting More High School Students

Since the community colleges were established in 2003, the schools have experienced dramatic growth in the number of high school students enrolling directly in the colleges. That number now stands at 1,939. Part of the increase can be attributed to the colleges' name change, to the expansion of its liberal studies programs, and to expanded transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities.

The System's Early College for ME program, which targets students who have traditionally not gone to college yet who have the academic potential to succeed in college, has also played a role in tapping more high school graduates. Begun in 2003, the program offers college transition services starting in the junior year, including early college courses, support with the college admissions process, scholarships, and guidance before and during college. This year, 41 percent of the increase in high school students enrolling directly in one of the community colleges were ECforME participants.

Trustees Approve FY08/FY09 Biennial Budget Request

At the MCCS Board of Trustees Meeting held earlier in the day, the Board approved submission of the MCCS FY08/FY09 biennial funding request of $50.4 million in FYO8 and $53.4 million in FY09. The requests represent a 6 percent increase for each of the two years.