It might or might not be a sign of the tough economic times. Enrollment at Connecticut colleges and universities is up the most it's been in 20 years, education officials said.
About 185,000 people enrolled at the state's public schools, private schools, two-year and four-year institutions," Higher Education Commissioner Michael Meotti said Wednesday.
He released the fall's tally at the start of the monthly meeting of the Board of Governors for Higher Education in Hartford.
Meotti said most of those gains were at the state's 12 community colleges, where more than 50,000 students signed up to further their education.
"We think it could be because of the great value community colleges are," Meotti said. "They're less much less expensive."
This is the seventh-consecutive year that the enrollment total has broken previous records, the Associated Press reports. The number of students increased 3 percent since last year, which is the largest annual gain in two decades.
The numbers indicate that Connecticut's public colleges are not only attracting more traditional-age students, but also adults going back to school as a result of the economic downturn.
Officials said they have already seen an increase in applications for public universities for the fall of 2009.
"This behavior recognizes that even in tough times when we're cutting back on other items, other consumer spending items, more and more (people) are saying, 'I have to in fact spend money on higher education because it's going to help me make money, be more successful in the long run.'"
It will take until next fall to see what impact the current economy will have on next year's classes.