College numbers on track to grow

Mississippi education officials say the faltering economy may lead to increased enrollment on college campuses this fall.Despite the growing cost of tuition, some students are finding that it makes more sense to continue education rather than face a job market filled with hiring freezes and layoffs.

“In times of economic stress, people usually turn to higher education for something to do until the job market improves,” said Aubrey Lucas, interim Higher Education Commissioner.

Nationally, Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, said in a recent conference call with journalists that education officials across the country are bracing for more students, in part, because of the economy.

The nation’s unemployment rate hit 8.5 percent in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was 9.2 percent in Mississippi in February, according to the latest data out. “If any portion of (the recently unemployed) goes back for higher education, you can see the potential to swell enrollment,” Broad said.

Clarion-Ledger 4/6/9