Hagerstown Community College officials said they were pleased to see the community college lead all community colleges and most colleges and universities in Maryland, percentage-wise, in enrollment growth last fall.
At 6.8 percent, HCC had a higher percentage increase in fall enrollment than other community colleges, University of Maryland System campuses and many private colleges, according to the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s December 2012 report on opening fall enrollment.
Only five independent colleges and universities in the state had a higher percentage increase in student enrollment last fall than HCC, according to report data.
Overall enrollment grew from 4,714 students in the fall of 2011 at HCC to 5,034 students in the fall of 2012, according to report data.
While full-time enrollment decreased for a second straight year, from 1,467 students in 2011 to 1,385 students in 2012, part-time enrollment increased 12.4 percent, pushing up overall enrollment, according to the data.
In the fall, HCC had 3,649 part-time students, compared with 3,247 in fall 2011.
HCC President Guy Altieri listed several reasons for the increased number of part-time students, including that HCC began allowing students to take two courses in one night, the addition of several online course offerings and the difficulty students have in paying for college.
Students are finding it increasingly difficult to finance their education, so many need to hold a job and go to school at the same time, Altieri said.
Most community colleges and universities in the state have seen declines in enrollment, something Altieri said is due to students financing their education, students reluctant to take out loans, the lack of available scholarships and difficult economic times in general.
HCC is trying to respond to those factors by expanding its evening course offerings so students can take two courses in one evening rather than just one, Altieri said.
That allows students to earn more credits at night and save money on the “little things” such as gasoline for fewer trips to the campus, Altieri said.
HCC did increase its tuition last year.
The county and state funding HCC receives, when viewed on a per-student basis, has gone down significantly in recent years, Altieri said.
“The trustees have had no choice but to make modest increases to the tuition, and this is not a period in time where students find tuition increases affordable,” Altieri said.
Tuition rates went up approximately 3 percent from the spring of 2012 to the fall of that year, according to expense charts.
The tuition per credit hour for a Washington County resident increased from $103 to $106, the rate for out-of-county residents went from $161 to $166, and the price for out-of-state residents increased from $212 to $218, according to the charts.
Altieri said HCC officials are working to expand fundraising for scholarships.
Stacey Lowman, HCC’s executive director of college advancement, said the HCC Foundation has had an upswing in available dollars for scholarships each year.