WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Across the county, community colleges have continued to face low enrollment rates.

This includes Jefferson Community College, in Watertown, New York.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, JCC has roughly 1,600 full-time students. According to JCC President Dr. Daniel Dupee, Jr., the last time the college saw these enrollment rates for full-time students was in the 1980s.

Dr. Dupee said the college believes enrollment rates are directly connected to the current economy, as more students are likely to enroll part-time while they work a full-time job.

“During a recessionary period, we usually jump up. “We really haven’t at this point in time,” Dr. Dupee explained. “Not because of the recessionary period from an economic standpoint, but we aren’t seeing the unemployment that we typically see during a recessionary period. So the more people that are working have less time to go to college.”

The college’s budget is based on a full-time enrollment model.

Because JCC offers a variety of services to all students regardless of their enrollment status, this has hit the college hard in some areas.

“Our budget goes down, but we’re able to manage within the amount of money that we receive,” Dr. Dupee stated. “Sometimes it means less services. We want to be able to provide services and keep students here and as students go part-time, they sometimes need just as many services as a student that’s coming full-time.”

However, Dr. Dupee said the college is not in financial trouble because the overall volume of students has not seen a significant drop.

Based on 2023 statistics, the college had just under 3,451 full and part-time students across over 50 associate degree programs and certificates.

So he said the college isn’t going anywhere.

“We want to move forward and we’re continuing to look for new populations of students,” Dr. Dupee expressed. “Also just increase the current populations that we have through partnerships with different programs through training.”

Dr. Duppe added, “We don’t want students to leave campus. We don’t want them to not get their degrees. So how can we provide services that will keep them moving forward with their degree completion?”