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WV college enrollment finally stabilizing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Student enrollment at West Virginia’s public four-year colleges has declined in each of the past five years, but a smaller decrease reported this fall might mean efforts to bolster the state’s college-going rate are working.

“This indicates that enrollment is beginning to stabilize after the post-recession enrollment decline that West Virginia and other states experienced,” said Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Paul Hill.

The head count for West Virginia’s 12 public four-year institutions is now 64,829, a less than 1 percent drop from last year. The enrollment numbers were released Thursday during a commission work session for next week’s quarterly meeting.

Neal Holly, the commission’s vice chancellor for policy and planning, said enrollment reflects the economy. He said people are more likely to go back to school when they can’t find jobs, which inflates enrollment.

He said that’s why West Virginia’s enrollment decline is higher among students 25 and older. Enrollment for students 24 and younger has been steady, dropping only 1.2 percent in the past five years. In the 25-and-older population, enrollment has dropped 27 percent since 2010.

While overall enrollment decline has seemingly tapered off, the number of students attending public four-year schools in West Virginia has dropped 5.3 percent since 2010.

The state’s smaller schools have lost the most students…

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