AUGUSTA — Enrollment at Maine’s seven community colleges has hit a record high for the ninth straight year.

Officials say 18,548 students are enrolled at the state’s community colleges this fall. That’s an increase of 4.3 percent, or 769 students, over a year ago.

Enrollment has grown each year since the schools changed from a technical college system to a community college system in 2003. Enrollment has gone up 83 percent in that time.

Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons said the colleges this year had to turn away many qualified applicants because the schools are at or over capacity.