Jeff State seeing record-breaking enrollment numbers

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — For the past three years, Jefferson State Community College has seen record-breaking enrollment numbers every fall.

This fall, not only are the numbers breaking records on all four Jeff State campuses, they’re setting new standards far above any the college has seen before.

“The smallest jump (on any campus) is 13 percent,” said spokesperson David Bobo. “But 13 percent is fantastic, as far as enrollment goes. Our college is 45 years old, so this is the highest enrollment we’ve had in the 45-year history of our college.”

The Shelby-Hoover campus on Valleydale Road has 5,319 students enrolled for the fall semester, an increase of more than 15 percent over last fall’s enrollment of 4,609. The Shelby-Hoover campus has the most students of any of the four locations, Bobo said.

Right now, Jeff State has a total of 10,041 students for the fall — an increase of about 14 percent over last fall’s total of 8,792. But that number could go up because of dual enrollment students, which have not been counted yet.

Bobo said the numbers are so high because people are realizing a Jeff State education is a good education at a great price.

“Certainly with how our economy is these days, people are looking for training, they’re looking for education, and they’re looking for a good value. And at Jeff State, that’s exactly what we provide,” Bobo said. “Our tuition costs are roughly half of what a four-year school in Alabama costs.”

Such an increase in enrollment doesn’t come without growing pains. Parking is already at a premium at the Shelby-Hoover campus. To help combat parking woes, Jeff State has implemented a shuttle service, Bobo said.

He said college officials are also keeping a close eye on popular programs, such as nursing, that could eventually need to be expanded.

“As we go along, if the need is there, we’ll increase our capacity for more nursing students,” he said. “We’re definitely looking at expanding, and looking at all of our options where we can expand.”

Even with tuition money flowing in, budget cuts still present a problem.

“We are trying to make the best decision for every dollar that comes into the college,” Bobo said. “Students are coming in at a record rate. It doesn’t quite offset all the budget cuts, but we’re doing the best we can.”

The Jefferson campus has 4,821 enrolled for the fall, an increase of 13 percent over last fall’s enrollment of 4,269.

The Pell City location has 689 students for the fall, about a 30 percent increase over last fall’s 543 students. The Clanton campus also saw a major increase of about 30 percent, with enrollment going up to 541 this fall from the 2009 enrollment of 408.