Enrollment at 2-year campuses highest ever

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The University of Wisconsin’s 2-year campuses have enrolled a record number of students this year.

UW-Barron County in Rice Lake says it’s actually in its sixth year of growth, and it's attributing the increasing enrollment, in part to the bad economy.

The record enrollment works out to a little more than 14,300 students enrolled statewide across the 13 UW college campuses and UW colleges online, a four percent increase over last fall.

The students, professors and the classroom all look the same, but the price of two years at UW-Barron County comes at a fraction of the cost of a 4-year school, at just $9,600.

“I think students are cost conscience, parents are concerned about taking on too much student debt and they are looking for options that are affordable,” assistant campus dean for student services Dale Fenton tells us.

And cost was certainly a factor for Heidi Eggleston, now in her second year at UW-Barron County.

“I have three kids to provide for and then a house, so cost was a big factor,” Heidi tells us.

But it was also Heidi’s children that prompted her to attend college in the first place.

“I was working at a pharmacy as a technician for two years, and I decided I needed to go back to school to provide a better life for my family,” she says.

Fenton says his campus has seen growth for nearly a decade now, he says administrators make it a point to tell students UW-Barron County is not only an affordable option, but one that makes transferring to a 4-year university relatively painless.

“We work with students to make sure the transfer process works well for them and that they'll be juniors upon transferring and able to complete their degree on time,” Fenton says.

Fenton says UW-Barron County now enrolls 703 students, and if the trend continues they'll soon reach capacity.

Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire has also seen its highest enrollment on record, with a 4 percent increase over last year.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- More students are enrolled at the University of Wisconsin System's two-year campuses than ever before.

More than 14,000 students attend classes at the UW's 13 campus centers or are enrolled in an online program, a 4 percent increase compared to last year and the sixth consecutive year of growth.

UW-Manitowoc had the biggest enrollment increase among campuses, growing nearly 12 percent from last year.

Manitowoc student services assistant dean Chris Beloin tells the Journal Sentinel the enrollment increase could be attributed to the weak economy. Tuition at two-year campuses is about $2,000 less than four-year schools.

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