Traverse City Record-Eagle

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August 28, 2013

NMC enrollment predicted to hold steady

TRAVERSE CITY—Enrollment at Northwestern Michigan College is expected to hold steady this year, good news for college officials who normally see student numbers drop as the economy perks up.

“We look at the counter-cyclicality with the enrollment and the economy, so we’ll be delighted to be even with last year,” said Chris Weber, NMC vice president for enrollment management and student services. “We are watching our sister colleges face some really tough stuff, although we won’t really know until the official head counts next week.”

Last fall, NMC’s headcount for fall semester came in at 4,847. This year, NMC anticipates a headcount of 4,850, although there is still a “lot of movement,” said Weber, who prepared enrollment data for the NMC Board of Trustees meeting on Monday.

In rough times, students are likely to choose a community college because it’s more affordable and close to home. Unemployment also plays a part, with jobless folks often turning to the community college to learn new workplace skills.

College officials predict NMC will receive a 10 percent increase in tuition revenues — from $6,785,660 to about $7.5 million — because of tuition and fee hikes.

The number of returning students this fall is expected to drop by 36 students or 7 percent. That decline is more than offset by a 230 increase in new students. Weber said new students are projected to number 1,650, about 100 shy of the record 1,747 students at the peak of the recession.

“It’s really exciting. We’re just thrilled,” Weber said.

Weber said the number of new student inquiries and applications submitted are 3 percent and 21 percent higher, respectively, which means NMC has a much larger pool of students.

“We’re working very hard in admissions to make sure we get the NMC story to our high schoolers and our 25 regional high schools in our service area,” Weber said. “Our No. 1 goal is for them to know it’s an amazing place, and the cost differential compared to a four-year university, and how much it can help their family.”

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