The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission on Nov. 17 released fall 2010 enrollment data for the state higher education system, which revealed that a record 95,118 students are enrolled, marking a 2 percent increase over fall 2009 - when enrollment surpassed 90,000 for the first time in state history - and a 10.5 percent increase over fall 2006.
West Virginia's combined enrollment at the state's 11 public four-year colleges and universities is 68,453, while the state's two-year institutions enrolled 26,665 students.
Fairmont State University's headcount enrollment for fall 2010 is 4,709, which is up about 3 percent from fall 2009.
"Internal improvements to programs and procedures have helped us to retain and to attract more students than in past years, contributing to the increase in enrollment. In today's economy, FSU offers high quality academic programs at a cost that makes FSU an affordable choice," said Amy Pellegrin, Director of Public Relations for FSU.
"Institutions like Fairmont State University provide a significant return on investment to the state of West Virginia. The majority of FSU's students are West Virginians who remain here after they graduate to make contributions to the state. More than 90 percent of FSU's students are West Virginia residents. FSU students hail from 52 of the state's 55 counties. More than 85 percent of our graduates report that they live and work in West Virginia."
In addition, the number of the state's full-time equivalent students saw a 3 percent increase over fall 2009, peaking at 78,570; first-time freshmen enrollment increased by 2.6 percent at four-year institutions; and enrollment of students 25 or older increased by 2.3 percent.
Dr. Brian Noland, the Commission's Chancellor, said these trends represent important progress in the face of a tough economic climate.
"While the recession certainly has an impact on college enrollment across the country, our steady growth in West Virginia is a testament to the commitment of our institutions to their access missions and the strong support and financial aid system our state offers," Noland said. "With enrollment at our institutions higher than ever before, we need a renewed commitment to ensure these students are supported while in the system - and complete their college education."
The Commission has taken a leadership role in Complete College America, a national nonprofit that works to increase the number of Americans with a college degree.
Additionally, this fall, the Commission launched the RBA Today program, an adult degree completion initiative that restructured the existing program for non-traditional students and reached out to students with 60 or more hours of college credit, but no degree, to encourage them to complete their education. More than 173,000 West Virginians have some college credit, but no degree.
In an effort to assist West Virginians with college and career planning, the Commission last year launched the free online resource - http://www.cfwv.com/ - a one-stop shop where students can learn about, apply to and pay for college.
For more information, visit http://wvhepcnew.wvnet.edu/.