LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - At USM's student bookstore, students are still stocking up on books into the first week of school.
"It's going good. I've only had a couple of classes so far," senior Ericka Goethe said.
Just one week into the new year, initial numbers show the school on track to break its record of 2800 students set last fall; this according to Academic Dean Dr. Tom Lansford. Lansford credits the economy, in part, for the increase. He points to laid-off workers going back to school and community college grads staying in school.
"They decide, Well, I got the two years down, and I got the associate's degree. Now's a good time for me to go ahead and get the bachelor's degree," Lansford said.
The increase comes despite the fact the university might shut down its Jackson County site due to slumping enrollment numbers. It's also facing nearly $12 million in budget cuts in its 2011 budget.
"It's gonna be tough, but I don't think the students will see a significant impact in terms of services," Lansford said.
Though Lansford said students aren't likely to see any major changes, the university is considering eliminating its technical and occupational degree program and shifting its master's program in social work to Hattiesburg.
But, despite the challenges, the students are still coming.
"I've always loved Southern. It's a great school for business majors and one of the best colleges for business in this region," junior Kristin Shaw said.
"I think I'm still getting a great education here," Goethe said.
The board for the state's Institutions for Higher Learning will release official enrollment numbers on the tenth day of school.