Summer enrollment is up at Palm Beach State College, and students also are taking more classes than last year.
The headcount for students taking credit and developmental education courses as of June 9 is 18,764, a 2.4% jump over last year. That represents a 4,041 full-time equivalent (FTE), which also is a 10% increase.
“We have more students, and they are taking even more credits. That really is the most important factor,’’ said Dr. Peter Barbatis, vice president of student services and enrollment management and interim Lake Worth campus provost.
The increase comes despite the College’s decision to continue remote learning in the summer and a later start for the term. The College initially transitioned to remote instruction March 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Barbatis attributes the increase to several factors, including the proactive work of the Financial Aid office, which has been reaching out to students and ensuring that those who qualify get the financial support they need. This includes distribution of emergency grants from the College’s share of the CARES Act funding. “It was a little bit more hand-holding and personal attention,’’ Barbatis said.
The College also launched a marketing campaign to inform individuals, especially those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, of short-term certificate programs in high demand fields and other services. PBSC distributed 340 laptops to students in need when the college moved to remote instruction in the spring. Those students were allowed to continue to use the laptops if they enrolled in the summer. Three hundred additional laptops also were distributed this summer. After its vendor stopped offering payment plans, the College began providing its own zero interest, short-term loans to students who needed to pay their summer tuition via installments.
In addition to the College’s efforts, Barbatis said many students have realized that if they must take courses online or remotely, they can do so at a more affordable tuition rate at PBSC.
“We’ve been working diligently with our students who have been here,” Barbatis said. “Our retention rate will be high because they are sticking with it and staying in school.”
Serving 49,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, providing bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State offers more than 130 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves.