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PCC credit student enrollment growth slows to 5 percent

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Fall term enrollment at Portland Community College officially increased for the 13th straight term. Although the rate of growth has leveled – down from past double-digit numbers seen in the last few years when the economy took a nosedive and people returned to college to get needed skills or degrees.

According to the college’s fourth week reporting numbers (the standard week for reporting enrollment figures), PCC grew by 5.1 percent in full-time equivalent (FTE) students and 2.1 percent in overall headcount versus fall term numbers a year ago. Total headcount for the fall is 41,409 (an increase of 843 from fall 2009) and 9,325 in FTE (increase of 455 from a year ago).

Students had to wait to use computers for registration during the first week of classes this year.

The enrollment figures reflect the number of students taking classes for that specific term. These numbers cannot be added to other terms’ totals to get an overall enrollment number, as many students who are enrolled throughout the year would be counted more than once. FTE is the total number of full- and part-time students added up to calculate one full-time student.

PCC, which serves more than 93,800 students every year, is experiencing continued growth thanks to the college’s affordability (students pay $76 per credit hour at the college). PCC’s tuition and fees have increased the least year over year compared to the state’s other 16 community colleges. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the cost for a full-time student to attend PCC for one year is $3,756 – an increase of 2.5 percent from last school year. In comparison, it costs a student an average of $8,190 to go to the University of Oregon every year.

“While we are still seeing record numbers of students accessing the college in a variety of ways to meet their educational goals, the rate at which they are coming to the college has slowed compared to what we have seen a few terms ago,” said PCC District President Preston Pulliams. “But PCC’s cost still remains competitive with other local community colleges and is half the price of many of our state universities, which is a big reason why we keep growing. And we will continue to make PCC an accessible, affordable and diverse resource for our community.”

In 2008, PCC was given a mandate by local voters when they passed the college’s $374 million bond measure – the largest educational bond measure in Oregon history – to improve and expand its campuses to meet the growth. Since then, the college renovated and opened the Downtown Center to house administrative staff and free classroom space at other campuses; built the Willow Creek Center in Washington County for workforce training programs; performed classroom and technology updates to rooms at Cascade, Sylvania and Rock Creek campuses; and broke ground on the future Newberg Center.

“The future is really exciting for us,” Pulliams added. “The bond program is planning around community needs and fostering important partnerships with local leaders and residents to plot a course that best meets their needs.”

Because the economy remains weak and students need more help than ever to pay for college, the PCC Foundation continues to raise money for the Miller Foundation Match – its third year. As a result of increased fundraising, the PCC Foundation awarded 526 scholarships to 444 students in 2009-10. These awards totaled $884,269 and the average award per student was $1,991.

Lines were long at the Sylvania Campus business office as PCC swells to more than 93,000 students annually.

By campus, here is how fall term enrollment has unfolded across the district:

Cascade Campus (705 N. Killingsworth St.) – It grew by 10.2 percent in FTE and 10 percent in overall headcount.

Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road) – Credit students increased by 6.8 percent and total headcount by 6.3 percent versus fall term of 2009.

Sylvania Campus (12000 S.W. 49th Ave.) – It experienced a 5-percent increase in total student enrollment and FTE.

Southeast Center (2305 S.E. 82nd and Division) – The center’s core enrollment increase by almost 16.7 percent.

For complete breakdown of fall enrollment numbers, visit:

In addition, PCC’s Institutional Effectiveness released its 2009-10 yearbook of enrollment and college statistics. Based on final enrollment figures for 2009-10 year, the college saw big gains in minority student enrollment. African American students increased by 26 percent from the previous year and Hispanics grew by 20 percent. This is on top of 17 percent growth in the college’s International Education Program, which has more than 700 students.

Other interesting stats comparing 2008-09 to 2009-10 include:

  • The number of credit students enrolled in distance education has doubled since fall of 2005 to 8,414. Their average age is 32.
  • PCC experienced a 27 percent increase in the number of students who applied for state or federal financial aid. One-third of credit students, or more than 13,000, received financial aid in 2009-10.
  • The amount of certificates awarded to students increased by 62 percent and two-year degrees grew by 24 percent compared to 2008-09. Of the students who took licensing and certification exams, 94 percent passed, with Aviation Maintenance Technician, Dental Hygiene, Ophthalmic Medical Technician, Radiography and Welding seeing 100 percent of its students earning passing scores.
  • Participation in PCC’s Dual Credit Program increased by 37 percent with 3,000 students from 43 local high schools enrolled. High school students saved on average $423 by taking credit college classes through PCC while attending their high schools.
  • PCC was awarded more than $126 million in local and federal grants between 2005 and 2009 to help fund programs.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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