Enrollment at Community College of Philadelphia fell 4 percent last fall, and officials suspect tightened eligibility guidelines for federal financial aid are to blame in part.
Full-time student enrollment on its own took an even bigger hit, dropping 8.3 percent, from 5,540 in fall 2011 to 5,076 last fall.
Throughout the region, other community colleges also report dips or flat enrollment, and note that students who in the past would have received aid, known as Pell grants, are going without.
Changes in Pell eligibility guidelines over the last year come as Congress struggles to rein in ballooning costs and deficits in the program for low-income students. Costs more than doubled in four years, to $35.6 billion in 2010, because of an increase in recipients and a rise in the maximum award.