Community College Enrollment Numbers Up

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Gila Community College is experiencing growth and Payson campus Dean Harry Swanson attributes it to an increase in programs offered at the college over the past year.

For the 2007 fiscal year, the unduplicated headcount for all Gila Community Colleges is 3,624, compared to 2,167 for the previous fiscal year.

The Payson campus is up by more than 200 students this fiscal year, from 1,688 to 1,895.

Perhaps most telling of the enrollment trends for the Payson campus is the huge increase in Full-Time Student Equivalent numbers, from 177 last fiscal year to 237 this fiscal year.

FTSE is the measure by which the state reimburses community colleges for their enrollment. The higher the FTSE numbers, the more hours of credit students are logging and the more funding the college receives from the state, Swanson said.

Payson had the highest increase in FTSE numbers over the last year than any other branch of Gila Community College, meaning that more Payson students are taking more classes each semester.

Swanson said that in the last year alone, the Payson college has implemented several new programs, which have helped in attracting more students.

"We added a registered nursing program, we have gradually increased the number of Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) courses to meet the increasing needs of transfer students, we have added many career and technical education vocational courses and we have also increased the summer offerings," Swanson said.

Swanson said he expects the growing number of registered students to continue increasing.

"A greater number of students are deciding to ignore urgings that they enroll elsewhere," he said. "We are offering new courses all the time, we are expanding our distant learning options and we are adding more AGEC courses. I am optimistic about future increases."

Margo Bracamonte, the college's senior dean, said that the quality of the staff can help account for the increase college-wide.

"Enrollment numbers just keep getting better and better due to the hard work and commitment of all staff," she said.

Swanson said he hopes that enrollment trends will continue to rise. He said that the college will continue to increase courses and offerings in the future.

"We hope to make arrangements for that eventual expansion with the Payson Unified School District and the Tonto Apache Tribe," he said.

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