When recessions hit, people go back to college to improve their chances of success. Washington state's community and technical colleges had a record enrollment of 161,081 full-time equivalent students (FTEs) in 2010-11.
But in 2011-12, enrollments declined by 5 percent, perhaps reflecting declining public support. From 1990-2010, state funding for colleges declined by 26.1 percent, and by another 7.6 percent in the last year.
With classes canceled and faculty laid off, students are having trouble getting the courses they need. Tuition has skyrocketed, along with student-loan debt, which at $1 trillion has now passed credit-card debt.
Unemployment is still so high that even part-time jobs are becoming harder to get, and graduating students face a bleak job market, with unemployment rates for 20- to 24-year-olds hitting 13.2 percent in April.