MONROE — Fall semester classes at South Piedmont Community College (SPCC) started this week (Aug. 9). With in-person, online, and hybrid offerings, the school reports enrollment headcount is trending upward by over four% compared to 2020; more than 3,500 students are enrolled in fall classes.

Enrollment increased in part through additional local, state and federal funds the college received to make financial assistance more accessible to students. These funds support the “South Piedmont Advantage,” which is a program that covers tuition and fees not supported by existing financial assistance programs. These dollars are not loans and do not need to be paid back.

“We are thrilled to have students back on campus. They represent the soul of the college, and seeing them enjoy our new and renovated spaces has been a highlight of this new academic year,” Dr. Maria Pharr, president of SPCC, said in a statement.

Students are returning to campus just in time to celebrate the opening of SPCC’s new academic building on the Old Charlotte Highway campus in Monroe. The 75,000 square foot building includes classrooms, lab spaces, and student commons areas. A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House is planned for the new Main Building in collaboration with the Union County Chamber on Aug. 31.

“We are also excited to unveil several new technologies which will help new and existing students experience college in a more personal and adaptive way, and we have several new, enhanced, and existing programs and partnerships to help more students experience the high-quality education for which South Piedmont is known,” Pharr said.

SPCC has established new transfer partnerships with Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, North Carolina A&T, St. Andrews University-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and Winston-Salem State University; SPCC already had a partnership with Wingate University

The start of this academic year will also launch the college’s new mobile app, SPCC Navigate, which is designed to provide students better access to classwork, appointments with financial aid or advising, and payment options — directly from their apple or android phones.

“Our app was designed in response to our students’ requests for clear and immediate access to all things SPCC,” Dr. Malinda Daniel, project manager for the app, said in the statement. “Now when students need to know their schedule, what assignments they have due, access emails, schedule appointments with various departments on campus, or receive critical information, the answer is simply Navigate.”