EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 17, 2012

More students opt for two-year colleges in tough times

Down economy aids community colleges

(Continued)

They said more local high school students are opting to attend schools such as NECC. In New Hampshire, Manchester Community College and NHTI in Concord are popular choices.

Since last year, NECC has seen a 62 percent increase in students from Sanborn Regional High School, where Nicholson graduated from 2011. In addition, there has been a 58 percent increase in students from Timberlane Regional High School and a 31 percent rise in the number from Salem High School.

The college has also experienced a 53 percent increase in Lawrence High School students — Martes’ alma mater — and a 30 percent hike in Haverhill High School students.

Soaring costs during tough economic times makes a two-year school the only viable option for some, Greenslade said.

As students prepare to graduate from high school, their families are getting nervous, wondering how to afford the expense of a college education, she said.

“There has been a lot of news coverage of college costs,” Greenslade said. “They are getting scared.”

In fact, a recent study by The Institute for College Access & Success shows that New Hampshire leads the nation for the seventh year in a row for having the highest average amount of student debt.

Students who graduated from New Hampshire colleges in 2011 owed an average of $32,450 in loans. Massachusetts ranked 14th at $27,181, while the nationwide average was $26,600.

Officials from local colleges and high schools said they are seeing same trend — more students going to community colleges to save money.

“Our enrollment since the recession started is up 30 percent,” said Janet Phelps, spokeswoman for Manchester Community College.

Enrollment at the school was 4,312 students in 2007-2008. That figure rose to 5,611 students in just four years.

Earning an associate’s degree at the school costs about $10,000 to $12,000 over two years. Attending the University of New Hampshire costs about $26,000 a year.

Four-year schools still an option

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