For immediate release.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 WATERTOWN, SD… Lake Area Tech’s campus remains at capacity with 2228 students, just seventeen students less than last year’s record growth of 190 additional students. For the past fifteen consecutive years, the college has experienced an upward growth pattern challenging national decreasing enrollment trends in higher education. Over the past 5 years, Lake Area Tech has had a 29.1% increase in student headcount.
The steady enrollment is due to a strong return of upperclassmen, several programs achieving full enrollment, and an increase in online E-Degree seeking and Dual Status students. More specifically, Lake Area Tech is seeing strong growth in the health, business and computer divisions.
Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney comments, “In the higher education world, this is outstanding news considering we were up almost 200 students last fall at this time. We are well on track for another record year as we will fill any gaps with our spring and summer semester starts.” At the official end of the 2018-19 school year, Lake Area Tech verified a record enrollment of 2,632 students registered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. That number was the projected enrollment figure for the year 2043. With the growth of the student body, the current campus expansion plan has been put in full motion to address space needs for labs and classrooms. The Prairie Lakes Healthcare Center of Learning is currently under construction and projected to open in the fall of 2020. This project will allow for expansion in the healthcare programs.
Lake Area Tech has achieved many national, regional, and local accomplishments over the years. Cartney states, “One that we are most proud of is continuing to make college affordable for our students. Between the state tuition buy down, Lake Area Tech Foundation and Build Dakota Scholarships we are able to help students achieve their career dreams without the financial burden. As a result, our students are needing less federal financial aid and the student debt for our graduates is declining.” Despite, 40% of Lake Area Tech student receive Pell Grants and 98% receive some form of financial aid,Lake Area Tech’s average debt for graduates is currently between $10-12,000. The national average student loan indebtedness for two-year associate degrees is $19,600.
Lake Area Tech’s accomplishments tell the story, including 99% placement rate after graduation, the creative delivery of education, strong industry partnerships, robust retention, high-demand degrees. Lake Area Tech was named the 2017 recipient of the National Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence which recognizes the outstanding learning outcomes, retention, degree completion, employment and earnings, and success for minority and low-income students.