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Paris Junior College’s enrollment this semester has dropped by about 500 students from last spring.
“We’re down about 10 percent in head count and about 10 percent in contact hours,” Dr. Pam Anglin, PJC president, told the Board of Regents on Monday. “We’re extremely concerned about our enrollment. College enrollment is down across the state, but they’re not down as much as we are. We think the difference is not having student loans anymore.”
PJC opted to stop offering student loans last year due to defaults. Student loans used to go through private lenders, such as banks, and those businesses bore the responsibility for collections. Now it’s largely fallen back on the schools, and a high default rate can threaten Pell Grants, which accounts for a sizable portion of the college’s funding.
As of Friday, PJC’s enrollment was 5,165, compared with 5,674 students enrolled a year ago. It’s not just on the junior college campuses, either. PJC conducts remedial math classes at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The class had 140 students last year. After the university lowered the score it required to get into college algebra, that number has dropped to 48 this semester. The state coordinating board is working on a set standard to avoid such fluctuations in the future.
“Times are very, very hard,” Anglin said. “As inexpensive as we are, it is difficult for some students to come up with the money if they don’t have Pell (grants).”
Dual credit courses conducted at 28 high schools continues steady, Anglin said.
She sees a future focus in work force education and dual-credit vocational education.
“With new industries coming in, eventually that is going to be our bread and butter,” she said.