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Florida community college enrollment is up 4.4% compared to last year

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(The Center Square) — According to Florida officials, the number of students enrolled in state community colleges is up 4.4% from last year, accounting for 59% of the state’s increase in college enrollment this year.

The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research held its Education Estimating Conference on Monday to discuss the Sunshine State’s college system enrollment.

Lisa Cook is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Policy for the Florida College System. She presented the updated estimates for college enrollments for school years 2023 and 2024, as well as revised projections through to 2029.

According to Cook, enrollment of full-time equivalent students for 2022-23 was 0.8% below what was estimated in 2021-22. Enrollment numbers for 21 colleges are set to increase over last year, with one remaining flat, while six others have had a slight decrease.

Cook noted that colleges were more optimistic in their out-year projections, which are estimated to continue growing until 2028-29.

“At the August conference, it was noted that Pensacola and Seminole had out-year projections that decreased enrollment by almost 50%,” Cook said. “We are happy to note that both colleges are now able to justify the increased projections based on current enrollment trends.”

Younger students are increasing, with 18 to 20-year-old students up by 3%, and older students over age 30 are up by 3%.

However, dual-enrolled high school students continue to outpace all undergraduates with an 8.8% increase. This is expected to continue to increase year-over-year.

“Florida colleges appear to be following a similar pattern, with multiple colleges identifying increases in enrollment for summer, fall, and for the upcoming spring over last year, especially dual enrollment and first-time college students,” Cook said.

Cook noted that one of the significant factors in the enrollment increase is the amount of state grant funding initiatives that increased funding for industry certification. She also said the state’s significant investment in the College Program Fund in 2022 has allowed for expansion, notably in high-demand areas like nursing and aviation.

Cassidy Willever from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research noted that year-over-year growth is projected to increase by around 4,000 students annually until 2029. Most projections were within 1% of what had previously been estimated, and while some colleges will have small decreases, most will continue to grow. The conference adopted the estimates.

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