Georgia colleges set enrollment record

Georgia’s public colleges reached record enrollment this fall, and schools in metro Atlanta are helping fuel those figures.

In the University System of Georgia, 311,442 students are attending classes at 35 colleges, Chancellor Erroll Davis announced Wednesday.

The growth represents a 3.2 percent increase over last fall. That’s smaller than the 6.7 percent increase colleges saw from fall 2008 to fall 2009, but it continues the steady gains seen over the past several years, Davis said.

"We continue to grow in good times and bad times," Davis told the state Board of Regents. "We are growing where we want to grow."

In anticipation of an enrollment surge, the regents have directed the growth toward "access institutions" -- 16 campuses, including two-year colleges, such as Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College. These campuses are cheaper to operate than research universities, such as University of Georgia, and they also have the ability to quickly absorb more students.

One access campus, Georgia Gwinnett College, saw enrollment increase by 82.6 percent. The Lawrenceville campus opened in 2006 and teaches 5,380 students.

Enrollment dropped at seven colleges. The University of Georgia enrolled 34,677 students -- a decrease of 0.6 percent.

The system also saw large gains in minority enrollment, with the biggest increase being among Latino students. The system enrolls 12,734 Latinos, an increase of 14.5 percent from last fall.

This growth is in line with demographic trends from Georgia's k-12 schools. Latinos were 4 percent of the state’s high school graduates in 2005, but they are projected to be 24 percent by 2022.

College enrollment

Enrollment at Georgia's public colleges reached more than 311,000 students this fall -- an increase of more than 100,000 students over the past decade. Here are this fall's enrollment figures for some of the system's 35 colleges. A complete list can be found at www.usg.edu.

College ... Fall 2010 ... Fall 2009 ... Change

University of Georgia ... 34,677 ... 34,885 ... -0.6%

Georgia Tech ... 20,721 ... 20,293 ... 2.1%

Georgia State University ... 31,533 ... 30,427 ... 3.6%

Georgia Southern University ... 19,691 ... 19,086 ... 3.2%

Clayton State University ... 6,604 ... 6,587 ... 0.3%

Georgia College & State University ... 6,737 ... 6,633 ... 1.6%

Kennesaw State University ... 23,452 ... 22,389 ... 4.7%

Southern Polytechnic State University ... 5,514 ... 5,183 ... 6.4%

University of West Georgia ...11,283 ... 11,500 ... -1.9%

Georgia Gwinnett College ...5,380 ... 2,947 ... 82.6%

Atlanta Metropolitan College ... 3,037 ... 2,688 ... 13%

Georgia Perimeter College ... 25,113 ... 24,549 ... 2.3%

University System total ... 311,442 ... 301,892 ... 3.2%

Source: University System of Georgia