This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

Enrollment has declined for the second fall semester in a row at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, administrators told the Board of Trustees Wednesday night.

Total enrollment in curriculum courses dropped to 3,922 for fall 2013, down from 4,491 last year. Enrollment peaked in fall 2011 at 4,971.

Enrolloment may still go up, vice president of student services Dena Holman said. The college is still enrolling for some courses, including its four-week and eight-week mini-mester classes. But Holman said she does expect an increase of more than 100 students.The enrollment number does not those taking adult education or continuing education courses. For instance, someone who takes a motorcycle-safety class over the weekend is not included in the college’s enrollment numbers.

Most of the college’s students, 54 percent, are from Caldwell County. About 19 percent are from Watauga County, 9 percent are from Catawba, 4 percent from Burke, 3 percent from Avery and 1.5 percent each from Ashe, Wilkes and Wake.

One-third of the students are enrolled in the college-transfer program. High-school students enrolled in CCC&TI’s courses come in next, 18 percent. Business programs have 17 percent of the student, 11 percent are health sciences applicants (meaning they are waiting to be admitted to programs such as nursing or nuclear medicine), 7 percent are health sciences students, and 10 percent are in industrial program. The rest fall into the “other” category.

Many of those 3,922 students are using various forms of financial aid. As a group, they took out more than $3.2 million in Pell grants, need-based federal grants for post-secondary education. That is down from $4.6 million in fall 2012, which Holman said may be due to the fact that the college has more late-starting classes than usual this year. Pell distribution is based on the courses students are currently enrolled in, so it’s likely some Pell funds haven’t yet been received.

In fall 2012, students also used $4.3 million in federal student loans, but there are none this year because the board of trustees voted in April to stop processing federal student loans.

Likely as a result of that decision, use of private student loans through banks went up this fall, rising to $263,472 from $45,045 in fall 2012.