Enrollment at Salina Area Technical College rose just more than six percent in the fall of 2017 compared to the previous fall, according to data collected on the 20th day of classes for the Kansas Board of Regents.

According to that enrollment data, Salina Tech is serving a total of 615 students, compared to 580 in September 2016 – an increase of 6.03 percent.

The largest growth area for the college was in offering concurrent enrollment general education programs, in which high school sophomores, juniors and seniors (and gifted freshmen) can take classes such as English Composition I, General Psychology and College Algebra at their high schools, earning both high school and college credits at the same time.

Salina Tech began offering concurrent enrollment in general education courses at Ell-Saline and Southeast of Saline high schools in the fall of 2016, with 87 students taking a total of 464 credit hours of classes.

By this fall, the concurrent enrollment program had expanded significantly, to include Abilene High School, Ell-Saline High School, Ellsworth High School, Minneapolis High School, Salina Central High School, Salina South High School, Solomon High School, Southeast of Saline High School and St. John’s Military School.

The number of students served through concurrent programs grew by 132 percent, from 87 to 220, and the number of credit hours those students were taking more than doubled, from 464 to 939.

Salina Tech President Greg Nichols noted that the state’s technical colleges were the only sector that saw enrollment growth. Statewide, technical colleges gained 975 students compared to the fall of 2016, an increase of 12.62 percent. Enrollment at the state community colleges declined by 1,502 students, or 2.07 percent; the state universities lost 239 students, a drop of 0.25 percent.

“More and more, people are understanding the value our technical colleges provide,” Nichols said. “Not only are they a great value for providing the technical education that leads directly to great careers, they’re also a great way for the local student whose career plans do not involve technical education to save time and money.”

For example, Nichols said, “someone planning on going to a college or university in a non-technical program can take many of their first-year classes at Salina Tech, saving not only on tuition, but also the expense of living somewhere else. That can easily add up to thousands of dollars.”

Salina Tech charges $79 per credit hour for concurrent enrollment courses. The college also offers a number of general education courses on its campus for $99 per credit hour.

“We’re expecting to see significant growth in this area in the future,” Nichols said. “We have experienced tremendous growth this year, but we’re nowhere near our potential.”