WALLA WALLA -- Following several years of rising enrollment, Walla Walla Community College is seeing fewer students enrolling at its campuses.
WWCC Director of Admissions/Registrar Carlos Delgadillo said the downturn in enrollment began last year, and followed what had been a steady, continuous rise in enrollment figures.
Delgadillo's enrollment reports to the Board of Trustees for January and February reflect the drops for fall and winter quarters.
Enrollment was down 3.3 percent at the end of the fall quarter compared to last year, while winter enrollment was down about 7 percent compared to last year.
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The economic hits of the last few years initially drew students to community colleges for affordable education, to specialize in emerging fields or for worker retraining.
The recent drop in enrollment follows a statewide trend.
The Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges reported a 4 percent drop in enrollment early into the fall quarter statewide. Final fall quarter enrollment figures from the state are pending.
Although it is not clear what is driving the trend, a series of tuition increases the last two years may have pushed some students away.
"It's hard to put your finger on any one thing," Delgadillo said. "I would imagine that tuition increases makes it harder for students to come to school."