WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw finds out about the increase in enrollment. Phillip Dempsey is paying his own way through school.
"For people who can barely get by, like myself, delivering pizzas, coming here, helps a lot."
And price is one of the reasons he picked Parkland Community College.
"It's almost 1/10th the cost of a state university; of UI or Illinois State."
In fact, it's been a factor for many students. Ever since the economy took a hit, community colleges like Parkland have seen a boost in enrollment. As the recession was in full blossom, lots of students stay close to home.
"We peaked over 11,000 head count."
That was in 2009. Since then, numbers dropped a little, but they still remain high. This year, Parkland has more than 1,000 graduates.
Danville Area Community College is handing out a record number of degrees and certificates. And, Richland Community College, in Decatur, broke its record last year.
"20-years ago, 25-years ago, there's a sense that it's a junior college. I think that's kind of gone away."
"A lot of people are just realizing they're getting almost the same education as at a state university."
And for Dempsey, that education is saving him some money.
Students at DACC will get their diplomas tonight. More than 200-graduates will participate in the ceremony. More than 450-degrees and certificates will be handed out. The ceremony starts at 7 pm.