By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
Enrollment numbers are down this semester at Clovis Community College because of the transition at Cannon Air Force Base and a low unemployment rate, officials said.
“If it stayed where it is right now, it would be down about 6.8 percent (from last year),” said Vice President for Institution Effectiveness Robert Caffey.
Enrollment numbers in the third week of school are more representative of semester enrollment due to late adds and drops, school officials said.
About 1,500 full-time students enrolled this semester, he said.
But enrollment has been declining since the Base Realignment And Closure announcement for Cannon Air Force Base was announced, according to Caffey.
Enrollment of full-time students was at around 1,800 before the BRAC announcement, he said.
Caffey expects enrollment to stay low until the base gets more people.
“Military enrollment including active duty military, spouses and dependents at one time accounted for 20-25 percent of our enrollment,” he said.
The enrollment from the base this year is 7.7 percent, he said.
“We do expect our enrollment to go back up to previous levels but it may take three or four years to get there simply because of the demographics of where we live,” he said.
The low unemployment rate is also contributing to the decline in enrollment, Caffey said.
“If people can work, generally, they would do that rather than go to school,” he said. “Of course, a lot of people still are going to school, because they’re working on skills that are going to put them in the work force.”
Caffey said the college is trying to attract more students by offering more classes duing the semester’s last eight weeks.
“We’re going to try to put together an appealing slate of classes for the eight-week fall mini-term (the last eight weeks of the fall semester),” he said.
Tuition breaks were also in the works to increase enrollment. The school’s board of trustees approved a tuition break for part-time students in its last meeting. CCC president John Neibling said the break would encourage students to take more classes.
Caffey said he expects enrollment to start going back to previous levels once the transition gains momentum.