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School feeling economic woes

September 7, 2010 by admin

Charles W. Kim photo - New BCC students Timothy Brown and Donald Martin look over books and supplies during the first day .

By Charles W. Kim

Despite the customary hustle and bustle associated with the first day of classes, the impact of a still weak economy is being felt at the state's No. 1 community college.

"It is not just that students can't get financial aid, but some have to financially help out at home," Brookdale Academic Affairs Dean Nancy Kegelman said Sept. 7 as she directed new students to their evening class destinations in front of the Student Life Center building. "The demographics (of the students) is changing."

Full-time equivalency (F.T.E.) enrollment increased by about 1 percent for the fall semester, but the school is seeing a change in who is attending, Kegelman said.

Even though the harsh economic climate is sending more non-traditional students to the classroom, fewer students are graduating from high schools lowering the number of traditional students, Kegelman said.

According to the school's Internet site, 15,639 were enrolled in the school last year with 9,201 students described as full-time. Fifty-four percent of the total number enrolled were female and 46-percent were male, according to the school. Sixty-one percent of the students were reported to be age 21 or younger.

Kegelman said the school is also seeing a greater demand for associates in applied science degrees which are designed for students to directly enter the workforce as opposed to an Associate in Arts degree used to transfer to four-year institutions.

In 2009, the school awarded 1,023 A.A. degrees and about 400 A.A.S. degrees or certificates, according to the site.

Another troubling trend, according to Kegelman, is a slight decrease in the number of students not returning to class due to non-payment of tuitions and fees.

Kegelman said that about two-thirds of the students who are dropped for this reason usually re-register the next week. That number is currently at only about one-third, Kegelman said.

"The economy is kicking our butts," new student Donald Martin said as he perused required materials for his semester at the Pen & Scroll Bookstore. Martin, 18, of Eatontown started classes in pursuit of an art degree. "You need the funds (for school)."

Martin said it is very likely he would not continue attending classes if it were not for federal and state financial aid.

Music education major Timothy Brown, 19, also of Eatontown agreed with Martin about the need for financial assistance to continue in school but said he would probably find a way to attend classes anyway.

"I probably would continue," Brown said. "But I would be in a lot of debt."

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