Fall enrollment at community colleges affected by pandemic

Preliminary data indicates enrollment of students over age 30 decreased at twice the rate as compared to students younger than 30.
College(Cory Sanning/WYMT)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 3:38 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Preliminary fall enrollment data shows fewer students are enrolling in community colleges across Illinois in the latest enrollment report compiled by the Illinois Community College Board.

The report, released today, shows total fall enrollment throughout Illinois' Community College System is down 13.7 percent compared to last year, though three community colleges showed an increase in enrollment for the fall semester. Preliminary data indicates enrollment of students over age 30 decreased at twice the rate as compared to students younger than 30.

“While fall enrollments have declined in recent years, a focused commitment from colleges and innovative strategies in improving student success has resulted in a 36 percent increase in the graduation rate for first-time, full-time students since 2009. The number of graduates in the Illinois Community College System have increased considerably since 2001. Approximately 66,000 student graduated in 2020 compared to 38,420 in 2001,” according to the ICCB.

Despite the implementation of measures at all Illinois community college campuses to ensure a safe instructional environment and substantial adjustments to instruction by moving many courses to remote or online modalities, the majority of Illinois' Community Colleges report the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues, especially for a high number of at-risk students, ranging from fiscal to technological.

Finalization of the student-level data in late-fall will allow ICCB to more fully analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on instructional areas, demographics, and other student characteristics, according to the board.

To help reduce the professional hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic for thousands of Illinoisans, community colleges are extending fiscal resources to students through Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and philanthropic funding to mitigate financial constraints to the extent possible, according to the ICCB.

“We’ve seen small but consistent declines in enrollment over the last several years, but 2020 has presented even greater challenges, especially for struggling adults who may have digital access issues and even greater constraints on their time,” ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham said.

The full report is accessible online here.

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