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Tech school numbers up
Enrollment jumps nearly 27 percent at Forsyth campus
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Forsyth County News
At a glance

Georgia technical colleges with the highest student enrollment increases from fall 2008 to fall 2009:
• Valdosta Technical College, 48 percent
• Atlanta Technical College, 47 percent
• North Georgia Technical College, 39 percent
• Sandersville Technical College, 35 percent
• Albany Technical College and Lanier Tech, both 32 percent

Source: Technical College System of Georgia 
While the down economy may be hurting many businesses, the business of education at Georgia’s technical colleges seems to be booming as a result.

Lanier Technical College has seen dramatic increases in student enrollment in recent months, reaching a record 4,139 students in the fall quarter.

This is the first time enrollment at the college, which has five campuses throughout Northeast Georgia, including one in Forsyth, has surpassed 4,000.

The previous record of 3,308 students was set in fall 2007.

Lanier Tech President Mike Moye said the Forsyth campus alone saw an increase of “close to 27 percent” from the fall 2008 quarter to fall 2009.

“Forsyth went up 200 students, from 763 to 963,” he said. “And that’s only counting students in credit programs. [That number] doesn’t count the North Georgia College & State University students in the [nursing] program on the Forsyth campus or the GED and ESOL students at the Adult Learning Center.”

Moye said Lanier Tech overall saw an increase of 32 percent.

Enrollment rose from 1,914 to 2,523 students at the main campus in Oakwood, and the Winder-Barrow campus went from 252 to 380 students, he said, also noting the Dawson campus saw similar increases to Forsyth. Jackson County was the only campus that posted a slight drop in students.

“[Overall] we had one of the highest percent increases in the state,” he said.

Lanier Tech is not alone in the surge of students.

According to a report from the Technical College System of Georgia, most of the 28 colleges in the system hit high enrollments this semester, setting a new record for the system as a whole.

At this time last year, 88,725 students were enrolled statewide. That number is up to 110,254, or a 24 percent increase. The number also breaks the old record of 91,838 students, set in 2003.

Record enrollment numbers, however, have not caused the state to increase funding for Georgia’s technical colleges. In fact, funding has been cut due to decreases in state revenue.

But Moye said Lanier Tech has made budget cuts where necessary to keep programs up and running.

“We continue to have belt-tightening exercises,” he said. “We’re cutting back on travel, equipment costs and purchases ... and we’re making due with the capabilities of our part-time faculty members rather than hiring new staff.”

The college also shifted to a four-day work week earlier this year to save on utility costs.

Moye said that while technical colleges usually experience enrollment growth during economic downturns, the recent upsurge at his and other Georgia technical schools is the largest he’s experienced in more than 30 years in the field.

He believes that can be attributed to the affordability and easy access to technical college programs.

“Not only are people who are underemployed or out of work registering ... it’s such a great bargain and most people can get [assistance] through HOPE. But even if you’re not eligible [for financial aid], the price point is very reasonable compared to anything else you can find in the state.

“At Lanier Tech we offer courses day, night and online to try to ensure that training opportunities are accessible to those who seek them out.”

To learn more about Lanier Technical College, go online at