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For the first time in over a decade, Illinois community college enrollment is up

According to a study by the Illinois Community College board, fall enrollment is up by 1.5% - higher than the national average which was flat this year.

ILLINOIS, USA — For the first time in over a decade, fall enrollment across Illinois community colleges is up.

An Oct. 28 report from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) said that enrollment by total headcount is up by 1.5% for Fall 2022; by comparison, the national average is flat.

Local schools said flexibility is key in attracting more students.

Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois said they accomplish this by making transfers easier, offering more technical programs and offering affordable tuition.

"We want to make sure that we are producing students who become workers, who are knowledgeable and trained in the most up to date technology that goes hand in hand with our employers," Sauk Valley Dean of Institutional Advancement Lori Cortez said.

Community colleges added that preparing students for the workforce ensures the school's education is valuable.

"We're seeing an uptick in our career technical education which is fantastic because we know that especially in the Northwest Illinois region, we need those in-demand workers for those in-demand jobs now."

Cortez also said being flexible means offering a mix between in-person and online learning, which improves the experience for students and helps keep tuition costs down.

Schools with enough funding are also using tuition programs to boost long-term enrollment.

Sauk Valley for example has its Impact Program where high school freshmen can earn full tuition by completing volunteer work.

The ICCB said 28 community colleges gained more students this year. Last year the number was 17.

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