New Mexico Junior College and University of the Southwest, as well as Eastern New Mexico University and University of New Mexico, have experienced an incease in the number of online students this year compared to last year.
One of the reasons, some say, is a dramatic increase in the price of gasoline.
According to AAA, gas prices in New Mexico average $3.66 for unleaded and $4.16 for diesel compared to $2.93 fo unleaded and $3.02 for diesel a year ago.
NMJC has increased from 749 students enrolled in online classes last fall to 1,629 online students this fall -- up 117 percent, said Michele Clingman, dean of enrollment management at NMJC. USW increased from 585 online students last fall to 845 online students this fall -- up 7 percent, said Evelyn Rising, acting registrar at USW.
UNM online programs have increased 26 percent from last year,said Kim Jarigese, marketing manager with UNM extended university. ENMU has 811 more students enrolled in online classes than last year, according to Trish Maquire, director of distance education and outreach at ENMU.
"We stated looking at this trend (gas prices and online class enrollment) this summer ... and we are assuming gas prices is a very big factor for students to enroll in online classes," Maquire said.
"I think students are initially taking an online class because they don't want to drive and then discover how convenient i is to take a class from home," Jarigese said.
Rising gas prices were a reason Paula Harrison chose to sign up for online classes the last few semesters she attended a Hobbs college.
Harrison, a 2008 graduate of College of the Southwest (now USW), said she took at least one Internet class a semester at the Hobbs Christian university.
"As a student, often your resources are limited until you can get your degree and start working full time. I had decided to not work full time while I was a student and I had to be very careful about managing my money," she said.
Harrison, who works as the assistant registrar at USW, she said she didn't know how much she'd saved on gas by having online classes.
Many NMJC students have said they like the flexibility of taking online classes because they do save on gasoline, Clingmn said. Typically students take both face-to-face and online classes and that way they don't have to drive to campus five days a week.
The Hobbs junior college students have a $40 fee per online class but that doesn't deter students for signing up for those classes, Clingman said.
"For many students, online classes are preferred because of work schedules, child care conflicts and costs associated with travel," Clingman said in an e-mail.
NMJC sophomore Jane Garcia, who as both online and on-campus classes this semester, said she definitely seen a difference in how much she spends filling up at the pump. Usually spending $80 a week on gas, she saves $20 a week on gas and saved about $40 a week by taking all Internet classes this summer.
"It (online classes) is an option and more people should consider it," Garcia said. "It's a whole lot easier than having to get up and go, for the gas or for having to find a baby-sitter for the kids while you go to class."