AUGUSTA — Enrollment in the Maine Community College System has grown 4.3 percent since last fall, an increase of 769 students in one year, system officials announced today.

Since the state’s seven technical colleges became community colleges eight years ago, the system’s enrollment has increased 83 percent, from 10,127 students in 2003 to 18,548 students today.

While more Mainers are attending community colleges, in part because of the affordable tuition and the need to retrain in a down economy, the system is reaching capacity in many programs and must turn away many qualified applicants, said system President John Fitzsimmons.

Schools with the largest growth this fall are Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield (up 6.5 percent), Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor (up 5.8 percent) and Southern Maine Community College in South Portland and Brunswick (up 5.3 percent).