With a downturn in the economy, Carroll County Community College officials are bracing themselves for an upswing in student enrollment.
"When there is a recession, enrollment usually goes up," said FayePappalardo, CCC's director of students services. "It never seems to fail.
Enrollment for the spring semester, which begins Feb. 4, is up about 45 percent from last year, she said. There are 155 more full-timestudents and 30l more part-time students registered for the spring semester than the previous year. So far, 1,501 students have registered for spring classes.
CCC officials are projecting a 21.8 percent increase in student enrollment, from 1,494 full-time students last fall to 1,605 next fall.
The economy, though, isn't the only driving force behind the rising numbers, Pappalardo said. Also contributingto the boost are the opening of the school's first permanent home earlier this year, CCC's low tuition rate and the spiraling costs of four-year college.
"Community colleges do better in tough economic times because they're closer to home and less expensivae than four-year colleges," said James Linksz, dean of instruction at Catonsville Community College, CCC' parent institution.
Tuition at CCC is expected to remain $37 a credit next fall.
Alan M. Schuman, interim director and director of administration, said community colleges are often used by business and industry in tought economic times to retrain workers to be more competitive in a declining market.
"In time of layoffs or high unemployment, we are a good tool for individuals to come in and take courses of their own to find new jobs," he added.
In unveiling a proposed $5.75 million budget for fiscal 1992, CCC officials emphasized that role--assisting economic development in the county--to the county commissioners, who provide 49 percent of the college's budget.
How that request, which is 20.8 percent higher than the budget for this fiscal year, will fare is unknown. The county has implemented a hiring freeze and is toiling under its own budget contraints.
Although community colleges will be called on to provide more services to more people, state financing --which would amount to about $1.3 million for CCC next fall-- also is threatened during gloomy economic times.
But Linksz said it is difficult for the state tomake cuts in community colleges when the demands for their services has increased. He said CCC, like other community colleges, should make sure the county legislative delegation and county coimmissioners are aware of the greater demand on its services.
He said colleges dotheir best to maximize the amount of service delivered for every dollar. Incremental money from increased student enrollment, for instance, is used to support additional teachers and staff for those students.
"We work hard to make sure teaching costs are covered only by the tuition students are generating," he said.
CCC plans to add 13 teachers and five other staff positions nexst fall.
Linksz noted that at some point tuition revenue will not be enough to cover the increased demand on a variety of other services, including registration,parking, counseling, the cafeteria and and career assistance and placement.
He said last resorts are to limit enrollment or increase tuition, but neither is popular with community college officials, whowant their institutions to be affordable and accessible.