NWACC Enrollment Down

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NorthWest Arkansas Community College student enrollment decreased 2.66 percent, NWACC officials announced Wednesday.

NWACC enrolled 8,418 students for the fall semester, which is down 230 student from fall 2011.

The College had set a goal of 1 percent enrollment growth for the 2012-13 academic year.

Dr. Todd Kitchen, vice president of learner support services, said changes to federal financial aid played a role. The maximum number of semesters a student can receive a Pell Grant was reduced from 16 semesters to 12 semesters.

“When students don't have access to federal dollars and they don't have their own personal dollars, they are very limited on what they can do of way of finances," Kitchen said.

Also, another reason, Kitchen said, NWACC’s record number of graduates in May.

"Last year we had such an increase in the number of degrees that we awarded that the pool of students that we had to pull back for this year was actually a smaller pool," Kitchen said.

John Stay, studying paramedics at NWACC, said he chose the college because it’s affordable.

"Even so with the economy down, I would probably say that there's still a solid level of enrollment here in comparison to a more expensive college," Stay said.

Leonardo Muñoz, studying education, said NWACC can always do more recruitment.

"We can go to the high schools and try bringing out the kids to show them that they can study and actually do something with their lives," Muñoz said.

NWACC officials plan to study these enrollment numbers as it moves forward. One solution is decreasing its drop-out rate.

"We have to retain more students to keep graduating students and to keep growing in enrollment," Kitchen said.

Dr. Becky Paneitz, NWACC president, said the college will study how the figures affects its 2013 fiscal budget since the college’s revenues is generated through tuition and fees.

NWACC’s enrollment remains the second largest of any two-year college in Arkansas. Pulaski Tech has the highest enrollment.