Recession sending more students to community colleges

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New Hampshire’s community college system is in the middle of a nationwide surge in enrollment this semester.

Many students are transferring to two-year programs mid-year after finding four-year schools too expensive in the recession. The economy also is sending a rising number of unemployed workers back to school.

Other students are choosing community programs right out of high school, to complete two years of basics for a fraction of the cost before transferring to four-year schools.

New Hampshire’s seven community colleges saw enrollment increases of between 4 and 19 percent over last year’s spring session. That’s about the same as preliminary figures show around the country.

New Hampshire is even marketing the transfer trend. Transfer student Elizabeth Leone is featured on a TV ad saying she headed to New Hampshire Technical Institute for about $6,000 a year, instead of returning to a four-year college in Pennsylvania that cost $45,000 last year.

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