Enrollment at St. Louis Community College has been falling for years. Except for a three-year spike in the middle of the Great Recession, enrollment has mostly declined for the past 25 years. The numbers have dropped to around 19,000 this year from 32,000 in 1990.
School leaders are struggling to explain why. Community college enrollment can vary widely based on a number of different factors, ranging from what kinds of jobs are available in a particular city and a population’s poverty level to the quality of area high schools and how well they prepare students for postsecondary education.
Low enrollment rates also affected the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which had an $8 million hole in its budget partly because it was expecting a 2 percent enrollment increase, but got a 4 percent decrease instead.
UMSL blamed the falling enrollment on several factors. Among those was a steady decline in the numbers of transfer students, including those from St. Louis Community College.