EUGENE, Ore. -- Community colleges in Oregon and nationwide are seeing a steep decrease in enrollment rates, which is an abnormality during tough economic times, according to experts.
Across the state's community colleges, the average drop in enrollment is at 23%.
Lane Community College's Vice President Paul Jarrell said they have seen a 22% decrease in enrollment rates since the start of the pandemic. LCC used to provide around 25% of their classes online and now 90% of their curriculum is offered solely remotely.
"We have provided a lot of support to students through virtual and online tutoring, it just takes time to get those things up and running and I think it takes time for students to get comfortable using those resources," said Jarrell.
LCC hasn't been the only one affected by the decrease in attendance -- Linn-Benton Community College has as well by about 10%.
"Enrollment is down largely because people are concerned about how to survive financially right now, so people are making sure they are taking care of family and staying close to home," said LBCC President Lisa Avery.
Experts said the fall-off for minority and low-income students could have longstanding repercussions on equity and access for years to come.
As for four-year institutions, the University of Oregon saw a 3.6% drop in enrollment this fall, but Oregon State University experienced the opposite, with a 1.8% growth.
"Students really do want to attend a university -- in this case Oregon State -- they want to be part of a community," said Steve Clark, spokesman for OSU.