As the recession shrinks budgets and tightens belts, Colorado Mountain College is reminding potential students that they have an education available at a bargain price.
"You wouldn't spend $12 on milk. Why would you spend three times more than you have to for college tuition?" ask a series of signs in an advertising campaign CMC has introduced this year.
"It's interesting to us because CMC has always intentionally kept tuition as low as possible," said Brian Hoza, assistant campus dean of student services at CMC's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.
Campus officials are preparing for summer and fall registration, with fall registration packets ready to be distributed Monday. Hoza said that while the Alpine Campus has not yet seen an uptick in enrollment because of the recession, he expects it could happen as more residents face unemployment.
"It's common during difficult economic times for people to go back for retraining or to finish a degree," he said. He said he also expects the college to see more veterans join the ranks of CMC as they return from service.
The Steamboat campus has increased the number of full-time-equivalent students seeking degrees by 2 percent from February 2008 to February 2009, but the overall enrollment number has declined by 12 percent on a loss of non-credit students.
Last year at this time, there were 1,505 students enrolled in at least one course at the campus. This year, there are 1,472 students enrolled in Steamboat.
Hoza said that brings the college back in line with enrollment figures from a couple of years ago. The college had a "bubble" of enrollment in the 2007-08 academic year, he said.
Even so, the college likely will fill all of its residence halls again this year and is in the process of finding new housing for students to allow the college to expand.
Throughout the entire nine-campus CMC system, the number of enrolled students increased slightly during the past year, bringing the number of enrolled students from 9,824 to 10,158.
Anita "AJ" Janis, assistant campus dean of instruction, said the economy also may be pushing more students to complete certification to advance their careers.
"People make a decision to go back to school or for more training that may yield a certification they may need to progress to another level in their field or to an entirely different field," she said. "There are students who certainly would look at the economy who would say this is not the time to venture out there."
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