It's another record-setting year for Missouri's community colleges. The Missouri Community College Association says enrollment at the state's 12 institutions was 106,486 when the fall semester began. That's up more than 8,000 students from last year.
We spoke with students and staff at the Moberly Area Community College in Hannibal, one of the school's 16 campuses in the region. The school's campus director told us the overall enrollment for M.A.C.C. has increased 16 percent in just the last year.
We asked several students why they opted for a community college. While their backgrounds may be different, they shared in their own words the one thing they have in common: the desire for an affordable school.
"Affordability's always important, especially when you have a family," said Sophomore Christa Hampton. "Since I am a non-traditional student and older, just taking that first step was difficult. I've been taking classes for a while now, just chizzling away at them. I have long wanted to be a teacher and I knew I needed a college education, of course. But I also have a family, so I'd have to have a college close to home. Even though it's a smaller school, it doesn't mean I'm getting less of an education.
"Some people said I wouldn't make it out of highschool, and I made it out of highschool and was able to go to college," said Freshman Deshields Dixon. "I went to Hannibal High School and alot of my friends have gone to community colleges and then want to go to other school's after that. I feel like I've had the same choice that the others did."
"I'm from Philadelphia, Missouri. It's comfortable to come from a small school like mine to here, rather than a four-year university and have a major culture shock," said Freshman Jordan Johnson. "I looked into a couple of colleges, but it's just the money. And especially with the economy now, it's really the only choice. I don't think there could have been any smarter a decision. Living in a dorm, with the dorm life would've been fun. But I'm saving a ton of money with a job and living with my parents."
Many of Missouri's public universities also reported record enrollments this fall.
Click here to look at the Fall 2009-2010 Comparison numbers.