The WV Higher Education Policy Commission says officials says the number of students attending public four-year colleges in West Virginia has dropped 3 percent from a year ago, including a 9 percent dip in the number of first-time freshmen.

WV Colleges have seen a decline in enrollment for several years.

Excluding high school students taking "dual enrollment" college classes, the overall enrollment was about 57,300, down 4 percent from last fall.

Based on those figures, Fairmont State University, West Liberty University and the West Virginia University Institute of Technology were the only colleges to report enrollment increases.

The Commission reported that Calhoun Schools had the fewest number of students enrolled in college last year of the 55 counties.

One factor in the decline is the high costs of college education, and debt loads that many students face for several years following attendance.

A number of West Virginia counties are struggling to maintain basic standards for educating students with declining revenue from the State School Funding Formula, particularly those that do not have local funding levies.

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