Record Fall Enrollment at Eastern Gateway Tops 41,000

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Eastern Gateway Community College announced its largest enrollment for a fall semester with 41,843 students between its Youngstown and Steubenville campuses and online.

EGCC also saw a 23% increase in Ohio students, nearly half of whom live within the college’s four-county service district, according to a press release.

“With over five years of experience in online college education, Eastern Gateway Community College was able to maintain and grow the services we offer students, create jobs in Youngstown and Steubenville and offset $163 million in potential student debt,” said President Michael Geoghegan. “We believe that our focus on preparing students for the 21st century workforce, and finding new ways to make college degrees and certifications accessible and affordable, will set a new standard for all colleges and universities.”

Of the students enrolled in the spring, 68.2% progressed to fall semester, EGCC reports, and 83.9% of students enrolled during the summer semester successfully completed their courses.

Through a program at California State University, EGCC’s open educational resources provided zero-cost textbooks for more than 200 courses, saving students nearly $12 million in 2019-2020, according to the release.

“We are proud that we can offer students skills and education that translates into viable careers in in-demand industries. We are also transferring students to pursue Bachelor’s degrees with a strong foundation and lower debt,” said John Crooks, EGCC senior vice president of academic affairs. “The success of our students is the true marker of our success as an institution.”

The college credits affordability and online course offerings for the enrollment numbers. EGCC offers more than 40 fully-online degree programs, which benefited students who were either displaced by COVID-19 or looking for affordable online options, the release states.

Through its student funding model, EGCC provided tuition-free courses to residents in Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson counties for fall semester. The college is also expanding its “last-dollar scholarship” program, which provides access to free online degrees to labor union members and their families.

Sherry Thomas, Youngstown, benefited from the last-dollar scholarship program and recently graduated with an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Thomas now works at Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

“I always wanted to attend college. But life happened, and I couldn’t afford it,” Thomas said. “At 55 years young, I jumped right in and stuck with it. At times, I wanted to give up but I remained focused. I accomplished a lifetime goal and if I can do it anyone can.”

EGCC’s goal is to provide programs that respond to the economic needs of the area and residents, said Geoghegan. The college itself has created 100 jobs between its Youngstown and Steubenville campuses.

“A college degree or certificate should be a ticket to economic advancement and increased prosperity, not a financial burden that takes years to pay off,” said Geoghegan. “Our model puts education within reach of anyone, and we meet people where they are. This is higher education as it should be.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.