In spite of the national economic uncertainty, 30,558 Rio Grande Valley students recognized the value of higher education by investing in their future at South Texas College. And because of that investment, STC saw an increase of five percent over its fall 2010 enrollment. This means approximately 1,504 more students are attending STC this fall than last.
“These students made STC part of their lives this year and that enrollment is a testament to the value students and their families see in the affordable, high-quality education we offer across our Hidalgo and Starr counties service district,” explained Dr. Shirley A. Reed, STC president. “With more than 100 degree and certificate program options across six campuses, really there is something at STC for everyone.
“We saw tremendous growth in online enrollment, which is due in large part to the launch of our sixth campus this fall, our eSTC Virtual Campus,” she added. “Students need a flexible and convenient outlet. We built this fully-online campus to give students access to courses at the times and location of their choosing. Life happens and we are here to help students no matter their situation. That’s why we focus on access and affordability, it creates options and opportunity. Higher education is the only path to improved economic prosperity for our region.”
With continued enrollment growth at STC, there is no doubt the college will expand as a source of economic stimulus for the regional economy. “The Economic Contribution of South Texas College: Changing Lives, Changing Communities,” a study commissioned by the college’s Board of Trustees, shows that the average associate’s degree graduate in Hidalgo and Starr counties earns $320,000 more over the course of a working lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. In one year, STC students cumulatively earned sufficient credits to add $107 million in income to the local economy.
“We are excited and elated every year that we witness an increase in enrollment in the college, because it improves the overall level of educational attainment, while allowing our graduates a better opportunity of securing higher-paying jobs,” explained Rose Benavidez, vice president of STC’s Board of Trustees. “We know that a large portion of these students will graduate in the next two to three years, helping sustain our economic growth and fostering an exciting future for our region. They are the foundation of recruiting new businesses to our area and creating those positive opportunities that change lives and communities.”
The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit, public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., recently issued a report that parallel’s the importance of continued enrollment growth in higher education in the Valley with the growth of the region’s economic opportunity.
"The Brookings study of the top 100 U.S. Metro areas identified the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area as the lowest in educational attainment among the top 100 U.S. Metro Areas,” concluded Reed. “At the same time, the area ranked number one for job growth and regional economic development. What a challenge that creates for us and it really puts in context why we feel it is so important to provide access, because STC's graduates will be the workforce for the high-skill, high-wage jobs coming to the Valley in the future."
For additional information about South Texas College call 956-872-8311 or visit www.southtexascollege.edu.