WASHINGTON, N.C. — Students returned to Beaufort County Community College (Beaufort CCC) to a larger student body as enrollment has continued to surpass pre-pandemic levels. First-year students were greeted with the college’s new Centralized Advising Center that is devoting more personalized attention to them. College administrators attributed the rise in enrollment to the Beaufort Promise, BCCC’s program to match students with funding to pay for all their tuition and fees, as well as expanding enrollment at Beaufort County Early College High School, and the return of instruction at correctional institutions. 

The Beaufort Promise has been a tremendous success, pulling Beaufort CCC out of its COVID-19 slump and putting students back into classrooms. Between the 2020-2021 academic year and the 2021-2022 academic year, enrollment at the college (measured in full-time equivalents or FTEs) grew by 23 percent across its short-term training and college transfer programs, with the number of students served (unduplicated headcount) rising by 33 percent. Enrollment last year surpassed pre-pandemic levels by 6 percent, and administrators expect this trend to continue for the current year. 

The Beaufort Promise guarantees tuition and fees are covered for students taking college credit courses or certification courses 50 hours or longer. The Beaufort Promise also covers testing fees for high school equivalency or GED students. Materials such as textbooks are not covered, though students may apply for additional scholarships. The program matches students with Pell Grants, funding from the American Rescue Plan, the North Carolina Longleaf Commitment for recent high school graduates, Short-Term Workforce Development Grants, and private funding from the BCCC Foundation. 

The new Centralized Advising Center opened on August 8 to help first-year students (who have completed 16 or less credit hours) register for courses and to offer a supportive centralized advising model that provides continuous, individualized attention to beginning students, who often have limited college experience. It provides extra support as students explore degree options and aligns their curricular choices with career plans or plans for university transfer. 

As of August 16, the Centralized Advising Center has already assisted 400 students with enrollment and creating a plan to their education. 

Enrollment increased two years ago at the Beaufort County Early College High School, whose students take college courses in their final years. These expanded classes have led to an additional 20 students per year taking college courses. 

The return of instruction at correctional institutions has also helped the college increase its enrollment in College & Career Readiness, which includes basic skills programs such as high school equivalency and English language acquisition. During the 2021-2022 year, this program grew by 20 percent. This June, the program saw 66 students graduate, including 16 at Hyde Correctional Institution.  

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers added 528,000 across the country in July, unemployment sank to 3.5 percent, and wages rose by 5.2 percent from one year ago. With the help of national, state, county, and private funding, Beaufort CCC will continue to remove barriers to short-term training, high school equivalency, and university transfer so that students can take full advantage of a growing economy.