College freshman Elizabeth Hebert’s choice of a four-year school suddenly got too expensive. George Haseltine already has a business degree, but he concluded after several layoffs that he needed more training to get work. So, in the middle of this school year, both landed at New Hampshire Technical Institute, which — like other community colleges across the country — has suddenly grown a lot more crowded, reports the Associated Press. The two-year schools are reporting unprecedented enrollment increases this semester, driven by students from traditional colleges seeking more bang for their buck and by laid-off older workers. But community colleges aren’t exactly cheering in this down economy: Tuition doesn’t come close to covering costs, and the state funds used to make up the difference are drying up. Final figures aren’t in for this semester, but a national group representing community colleges says the average increase from last spring to this spring is dramatic–a range of 4 percent to 19 percent. The figure is 20 percent in Maine and South Carolina. One school in Idaho has more than twice the number of students this spring over last…

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