The Technical College System of Georgia had its largest one-year increase in enrollment in the system’s history. The effect of the economy is apparent among the student age groups, where the percent of enrollment increase rose as the ages got older:
Ages of students Percent increase Number of students
Under 21 11 46,910
21-25 22 46,377
26-30 25 28,780
31-35 26 20,597
36-40 30 16,916
ATLANTA—An unprecedented 22 percent jump in the number of students attending the state’s technical colleges has set a new annual enrollment record for the Technical College System of Georgia. The system’s 26 colleges enrolled 190,842 students in fiscal year 2010, which ended on June 30. The total smashes the previous record high enrollment set in 2009 by more than 34,000 students.
At Savannah Technical College, total enrollment was up 13 percent from the previous year, with the college serving 9,639 students in 2009-10 up from 8,531 in 2008-09.
“It was a record-setting year for us, with enrollment topping 5,000 for the first time,” said STC President Dr. Kathy Love. “Our enrollment increased every quarter in FY2010 and we’re expecting increases to continue into the current fiscal year. We’ve just started our summer quarter, usually the smallest in terms of enrollment, and early numbers show that we’re going to exceed 4,000 summer quarter students for the first time.
“People are clearly interested in what Savannah Technical College has to offer.”
The surge in enrollment has been fueled in part by people who are either out of work or under-employed due to the stagnant economy. Those Georgians are turning to the technical colleges for training and skills enhancement in programs where the job outlook is more promising, like heath care, energy and the environment, information technology, and even entrepreneurial trades such as plumbers and electricians.
“Even as the state grapples with its own budget issues, our technical colleges have accepted a record number of new students in search of the skill sets and knowledge that will better situate them for employment in today’s tough job market,” said TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson. “This amazing ability of the TCSG to welcome tens of thousands of new students during an economic downturn is a reflection of the high quality and immense dedication of the faculty and staff at each college.
“I commend Savannah Tech’s commitment to deliver the very best in technical education programs and provide every student with the ability to find success in the Georgia workforce even in these most difficult of times,” said Jackson.
The 26 technical colleges delivered 4.39 million credit hours of instruction in 2010, up from 3.49 million hours in 2009.
There was also a significant jump in the number of TCSG students receiving the federal Pell and Georgia HOPE grants in the past year. Pell grants, which are based on financial need of the student and his or her family, were awarded to 89,019 TCSG students in 2010, a 53 percent increase over the 58,193 students who received the grants in 2009.
The number of TCSG students using the Georgia HOPE grant also grew by 26 percent, from 116,534 in 2009 to 147,046 in 2010. (There is duplication in the Pell and HOPE grant totals as some students are eligible for both).
Tuition at the TCSG colleges is among the lowest in the Southeast, averaging about $2700 a year. Almost nine of every 10 TCSG students use federal and state grants to reduce a large portion of the out-of-pocket cost of their college education.
According to Jackson, two factors are at work that will determine the level of continued enrollment growth at the TCSG colleges.
“What happens with the national and state economy is most certainly a wild card in our future enrollment,” he said. “Also, more and more high school graduates and their parents are making the TCSG their first choice for a college education.
“Long gone are the days of our technical colleges being Georgia’s best-kept secret for quality higher education and a pathway to a better career.”
The TCSG provides a broad range of almost 600 certificate, diploma and associate degree programs. For more information about the TCSG and a complete listing of the colleges, go to www.TCSG.edu