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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: It's back-to-school for a lot of the nation's community colleges. With tuition rising, Charla Bear says students are trying something new to help meet expenses.

CHARLA BEAR: An increasing number of community college students are opting to pay their tuition in installments.

Community colleges across the country are allowing students as many as 10 payments per semester. Many colleges are feeling pressure to fill seats as tuition escalates. And students, most of them commuters, are feeling the pinch of rising gas and energy prices.

Those factors are making interest in payment plans surge.

Nina Vellayan is with Sallie Mae, the nation's largest provider of student loans.

NINA VELLAYAN: It is truly our fastest growing segment. From last year the growth we saw was 10% - the growth this year is 25-30 percent.

Fees for the program range between $15 and $50.

I'm Charla Bear, for Marketplace.