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Published December 18, 2013, 08:51 AM

Minnesota college enrollment back to pre-recession levels

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Enrollment in Minnesota's colleges and universities has declined since last fall.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Enrollment in Minnesota's colleges and universities has declined since last fall.

Preliminary data from the Office of Higher Education shows overall enrollment dropping 2.7 percent. And it's down nearly 5 percent since 2009 when more people were turning to education during the recession to be retrained so they could find work.

Enrollment has been most volatile at for-profit career schools, where it's dropped about 18 percent this year and 39 percent since the first wave of recession-era students hit campuses in 2009, according to Minnesota Public Radio News. Among the larger schools, the Minnesota School of Business lost 44 percent of its students. Rasmussen College lost about 13 percent.

"Those were the campuses where enrollment went up dramatically during the recession and the low economic growth," said state analyst Tricia Grimes. "And now those are the places where we're seeing enrollment decline."

The influx of students peaked in 2010-2011 and has been declining since then, the figures showed.

Enrollment fluctuations have colleges and universities re-evaluating their offerings. Minnesota State University Moorhead, where enrollment is down more than 11 percent this year, is phasing out a handful of majors and merging about a dozen departments.

The University of Minnesota Duluth, which has seen a 1 percent drop in enrollment since 2008, ordered a sweeping evaluation of all programs and services this fall.

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