MERCED -- Merced College began its spring semester Monday, and preliminary numbers show a slight decrease in student enrollment.
As of last Wednesday, the college had a head count enrollment of 9,649, said Anne Newins, vice president of student personnel at Merced College. That includes only those who are taking for-credit courses.
That represents a 4.78 percent decrease compared with last semester, Newins said. The enrollment numbers, however, will continue to change in the next couple of weeks as students on a waiting list are able to enroll in classes or not, depending on the available space.
"They could stay the same, they could go up," she said of the enrollment numbers.
Officials won't have a better idea of what the college's enrollment looks like until after the official student census count is completed at the end of the third week of school, Newins said.
The decrease in enrollment could be because of tighter financial aid regulations, Newins said. "We had a drop in the number of students receiving financial aid, so that's probably a piece of it," she said.
Another factor could be the improving economy and people going back to work, she added, but it's hard to know for sure.
Marianne Tortorici, vice president of instruction at Merced College, said the college canceled about 50 classes because of the low enrollment. That represents about 4 percent of the 1,250 classes the college offers.
Many of the classes that were canceled included some sections of art and English, she said, but the college offers multiple sections of the same classes. Students enrolled in the classes that were canceled were contacted and encouraged to enroll in a section that's open.
"This way, the student does not lose progress in their pursuit of a degree or certificate," she said.
There are other classes that remain open, she said, and students can check the sections online.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or email@example.com.