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SUNY community college enrollment numbers take a plunge

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Community college enrollment is down around the country.

Onondaga Community College saw a considerable student decrease in just one year.

Numbers from SUNY indicate the drop was around 16 percent.

"We've seen declines steadily since 2011," Marth Parham, senior vice president of public relations with American Association of Community Colleges, said.

Parham said a robust economy has, in part, contributed to lower enrollment numbers at two-year colleges.

"When unemployment is very low, then people aren't coming to community colleges to take classes or training to get new skills to try and reenter the labor market because a lot of them already have jobs," Parham said.

In New York, the Excelsior scholarship, or tuition free school began in the fall 2017.

SUNY enrollment numbers, within the same time, show that community college enrollment took a dive.

The most recent statistics from 2017, show that there has been a steady decline in SUNY community college enrollment.

From 2016 to 2017 there was a dramatic decrease of around 2,000 students.

CNY Central contacted OCC to ask about the enrollment plunge and what might be the cause, such as free tuition.

They said all questions about enrollment must go through the chancellor's office.

CNY Central went to SUNY Oswego to ask Chancellor, Dr. Kristina Johnson.

"Do you think that any of the enrollment issues with OCC could be attributed to the Excelsior Scholarship?," Dan Messineo asked.

"I think it's too soon to tell. We don't have all the data yet," Johnson said. "I think enrollment is obviously something that we're pretty concerned about."

While it is unclear if the free tuition at state schools be blamed for lower enrollment, one student CNY Central talked to picked a 4 year school over a community college because of the scholarship.

"If it wasn't factored in, I probably would have picked the community college, Michael Kolawole, SUNY Oswego student, said.

The SUNY chancellor said she will consider all options to boost enrollment at community colleges.

She said reaching out to nontraditional students, growing online programs and getting students who dropped out to come back is a good start.

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