Local businesses could be impacted by decline in college enrollment

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A recent State House report shows there’s been a decline in enrollment for the second year in a row at state universities.

Fewer students on campus means less funding for universities and less revenue for businesses in surrounding communities.

State education officials are concerned the commonwealth could see another year of decline in college enrollment. Completion rates for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, are a key indicator. As of November, FAFSA completion rates were down by about 18 percent in Massachusetts, with fewer FAFSA forms being filled by students of color.

State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said this trend could be a sign of uncertainty and more challenges that students are dealing with when applying.

“If I was applying right now it would definitely be if it was in person or online, the cost and what the school has to offer given the current circumstances,” said Declan Hasting, a UMass freshman.

Fewer students means less revenue for college towns like Amherst. While enrollment at UMass remains steady, local businesses hope the college foot traffic continues.

“I’d say a good part of the economy relies on students. Even our dining dollars are accepted almost everywhere so it’s huge that there’s no kids on campus,” said UMass freshman Quentin Moliterno.

Store Manager of Antonio’s Pizza David Bourgeois told 22News, “They’re already bringing back over half of their students back for the spring and hopefully we’ll be back to normal by the fall.”

Two webinars are slated for February to communicate information to counselors about FAFSA and available tools students can use.

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