Enrollment at Iowa community colleges declined for a second consecutive year after reaching record highs during the recession, a review of data provided by the colleges shows.
Iowa’s 15 community colleges enrolled 100,519 students this fall, a 5 percent drop from a year ago. At Des Moines Area Community College, the drop was nearly 7 percent this fall. A similar decline is expected this spring at DMACC, the state’s largest community college.
Despite the decrease, DMACC tuition increased just $2 this fall, and there are no plans for a spring semester hike, DMACC President Robert Denson said. The college eliminated 180 low-demand courses. It also cut some adjunct faculty members, many of whom were added when enrollment spiked at 32 percent in 2009-10, he said.
During the recession, 25- to 49-year-old Iowans flooded the state’s community colleges as they sought to learn new skills when they were unable to find work, officials said. Enrollment peaked in 2010 at more than 106,000 students. Now fewer of those students are taking classes because they have returned to the workforce. In addition, community colleges must recruit from a shrinking pool of high school graduates.