SCCC reports increased enrollment

Schenectady County Community College is seeing an increase in an enrollment that is directly linked to the recession, officials say.

When the economy is down, our enrollment is up, said Heather Meaney, a public relations specialist at SCCC.

"Spring 2009 enrollment for full-time students is 2,124, which is 9 percent over last spring," Meaney said, adding the reasons why students are choosing community college are vast.

One the reasons, according to Meaney, is that there are some who need additional training for a new job after they've been laid off from their previous one.

"They can come here as a great resource to upgrade their skills," she said.

Brian McGarvey, associate dean for student access and director of financial aid for Schenectady County Community College noted the financial benefits of starting at a community college and then transferring to a four-year school.

"If you want to save about 40 percent of the cost of a B.A. from a SUNY school, for example, do the first two years here and then transfer," said McGarvey.

"We just have such a great diverse faculty and our students appreciate that. They can do internships while they're here and our faculty knows everyone in the community so they can link students up with internships [and] they can be great references for them when they're applying for jobs," said Meaney.

McGarvey said even though enrollment is up and requests for financial aid are up, the college is able to at least partially satisfy each student's request.

"Can we meet full need? No," said McGarvey. "We don't have endowments so we depend upon federal and state financial aid programs."

However, McGarvey said that financial aid is "healthy," despite the country's current economic situation.

"One of the questions I'm very often being asked with all the government issues is 'Are our financial aid programs being cut?'" said McGarvey. "The answer is 'no,' and it's just the opposite. There's going to be more money in financial aid programs now than there were before."

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