Many students turn to community colleges over universities

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The weak economy may be hard on your wallet, but it's actually encouraging some people to think about their own.

More and more people across the nation are choosing community colleges over universities to save on their education.

It amounts to big savings of almost $5,000 a semester if you go to Pellissippi State Technical Community College over The University of Tennessee.

The thousands of dollars are exactly why some are choosing two-year colleges over four-year schools.

Every year, more students roll onto community college campuses across the nation to save on their higher education.

Pellissippi student Melissa Beightol says, “I've always wanted to be a lawyer, so I thought, I definitely have to have college for that."

High hopes and high cost for Beightol, but the choice of Pellissippi over UT was an easy decision.

“I came here because I have to pay for my college. My parents aren't helping me. I mean, they'll help me a little bit on books, so it's my money and I can't afford UT right now. I'm going to go for two years at Pellissippi and then transfer."

Beightol is not alone as pellissippi reached their highest enrollment ever last school year.

Pellissippi student Abra Coning says, “I got enought scholarships to pay for this, where if I sent to UT or UTC I'd have to apply for loans and everything."

It's too early in the semester to say what their numbers are right now, but Pellissippi administrators are confident the number of students is even higher this year.

Pellissippi student Julia Wood says, “As the economy gets worse, community college enrollment goes up."

But first-year students aren't the only ones they're seeing more of, with some people who have been laid off heading back to school.

Wood says, “People are looking for new jobs, or new skills, and this is just a great value for them."

It's a great value to encourage more people to hit the books at a community college.

Another bonus for some students is that their student loans will be smaller after they get their degrees.

Basically, if they have to borrow less for their first two years, it helps them as they start their new careers.

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