Popularity Of Community Colleges Grows With University Tuition Increases - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/20/05

Popularity Of Community Colleges Grows With University Tuition Increases

Pearl River Community College in Poplarville has seen an increase in enrollment over the past five years. As the cost of higher education continues to climb, more high school graduates are choosing community colleges to further their education.

It's freshman orientation at Pearl River Community College and Alyson Clark is working out her class schedule.

"I wanted to start off at a junior college... because I came from a small school. Universities are just so much bigger."

They also come with a much higher tuition price.

"If I had gone to a major university right away, we'd be handing out quite a bit of money to the university. Here I've already got two free tuition scholarships," Freshman student Matthew Turcotte said.

Another Freshman, Brent Scelson, echoed Matthew's words.

"Cost is a factor in anything. A scholarship is $760 that didn't have to come out of my own pocket."

Tuition at four year institutions have risen dramatically over the past five years. The University of Southern Mississippi, for example, has jumped from $1,495 a semester in 1999, to about $2,200 a semester today.

And although tuition rates at PRCC have increased slightly over the years, students say $810 a semester is still a bargain.

"We offer an affordable and quality opportunity to receive higher education. More and more folks are recognizing that as the cost of higher education continues to rise and get more expensive," School Administrator Dr. William Lewis said.

The growth the campus has seen over the years has created a shortage of dorm room space. Last year, 150 students were put on waiting lists for rooms. That's the reason the college is undergoing a building boom.

"The new dormitories will enable us to add about a 140 additional beds to this campus," Dr. Lewis said.

He says the goal is to meet the demands of all the growth. The new dormitories are expected to be completed by the Summer of 2006.

by Al Showers

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