Community college enrollment dipped by 2 percent in Texas this fall, reports the Houston Chronicle. The state’s improving economy may be drawing students back to the workforce. However, public universities and for-profit career colleges, saw slight enrollment gains.
“It was a bit of a wake-up call,” said Dominic Chavez, spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. “We’ve been going gangbusters on enrollment since 2000.”
Areas of the state undergoing an economic boom, such as with lucrative energy jobs near the Eagle Ford Shale natural gas and oil formation, are experiencing more substantial enrollment declines than other regions.
“It’s hard to keep a student in school to get their associate’s when they can go make $65,000 a year as a truck driver,” Chavez said.
Other factors are changes in federal Pell Grant rules: Students no longer can get “year-round” aid covering the summer semester. In addition, the state has fewer 18-year-olds. Finally, students are required now to be vaccinated against meningitis, a rule that’s discouraging some potential enrollees, according to a report by the Coordinating Board.