Enrollment drops at Georgia colleges

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Enrollment drops at Georgia colleges

Fewer college students

Overall enrollment in the University System of Georgia dropped this fall and more than half of the system’s 35 colleges reported declines. Data for all colleges can be found at www.usg.edu. Here are the five colleges with the largest percentage drops:

College … Percentage drop … Number of fewer students

Bainbridge … 21.3 … 795

East Georgia … 14.3 … 491

Waycross … 13.6 … 131

Georgia Perimeter … 12.5 … 3,377

Gordon … 10.6 … 493

Source: University System of Georgia.

As expected, fewer students than last year are attending college within the University System of Georgia this fall, according to figures officials released Wednesday.

The system is teaching 314,365 students, a decline of 1.2 percent. Of the system’s 35 colleges, 19 are teaching fewer students. The largest declines are at two-year colleges and those that emphasize associate degree programs.

Using preliminary data The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported three weeks ago that enrollment was down.

This is the third time since 1978 that enrollment dropped. It reverses more than a decade of record-setting enrollment growth.

System officials have said the decline was expected since the pace of growth has slowed in recent years. System officials have been working with colleges to prepare them for the drop, Chancellor Hank Huckaby said.

Fewer students translates to less tuition money for colleges. The revenue loss comes at a perilous time, as the state has ordered public colleges and other agencies to cut spending because of the weak economy.

State leaders said there are multiple reasons for the decline, but placed much of the blame on the economy as well as changes to the federal Pell Grant, Georgia’s HOPE scholarship and other programs that have reduced the aid students receive.

Officials said it’s too soon to tell whether the drop marks the start of a new trend or is a one-year blip. Colleges across the country have reported similar drops.

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