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Monday, July 26, 2010 - 11:57am

Schools Strain Under Enrollment Weight

Updated: 4 years ago.
Savannah Technical College has an award-winning culinary arts program. College officials say, as the economy continues to sputter, more students than ever are taking courses in the hospitality industry, one of Savannah's leading business sectors. (photo Savannah Technical College)

Georgia's technical colleges are reporting unprecedented enrollment jumps.

The record-shattering fiscal year-end numbers highlight strains across the system.

The state's 26 technical schools enrolled a little more than 190,000 students in the fiscal year that ended in June.

That's more than 22% over the previous year.

Savannah Technical College President Kathy Love says, the school's highest-ever, 13% rise in enrollment means, looking farther afield for teachers.

"We might start out hoping to find an adjunct professor but then we would find we can't find anyone locally," Love says. "Then we will see if we can't bear the budget of a full-time faculty member and then broaden our search not just to the local area."

It's also creating a physical challenge for the campus, which is hemmed in by an Army installation on one side and commercial and residential space on the other.

"Parking is a real problem," Love says. "We've had to loosen some of the rules that we've had before about parking on the grass."

In another record-breaking jump, technical colleges reported a 53% rise in the number of students getting Pell Grants, which are made to students based on financial need.

Lingering unemployment is fueling the back-to-school surge.

Savannah numbers show, students are flocking even more to area-leading hospitality and medical sectors.

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