June 18, 2010
Summer is upon us, and while in the past this marked a period of time off for many students, our university is experiencing a double-digit increase in summer enrollment.
We are tracking many factors that may be impacting enrollment so that we can build upon these successes. The first is a change in the way federal financial aid is distributed. For the first time, full-time students may access a second Pell Grant award within a single year. About 68 percent of our students received Pell Grants during the fall and spring semesters, and in the past, they would have exhausted these funds before the summer term. Under the new guidelines, students may now continue their momentum toward degree completion during the summer.
Transfer students, those who attend college elsewhere but return home for the summer, represent another area of growth for our summer enrollment. Of the students enrolled for Summer I courses, 5 percent are transfer students, which represents an increase of 21 percent over last summer (305 transfer students in summer 2010 vs. 251 in 2009).
There are many people who have worked very hard to make students aware of the summer opportunities at our university. In addition to our normal marketing efforts in our region, we reached out to students at other universities through their college newspapers. We also tracked and communicated with several target groups in our applicant pool including stop-out students in good standing and students who were only one or two courses away from graduation. We also launched a comprehensive information campaign regarding the new Pell Grant awards.
The end results are that Summer I enrollment is up 13.3 percent in the number of students and 19.4 percent in the number of credit hours students took at the same time last year. Preliminary numbers show that the Summer II semester is on track for similar increases. We expect a 13.4 percent increase in headcount and 19.2 percent increase in credit hours.
This community university was established to provide opportunity for our region: to provide affordable, high-quality degree programs to a population that was hungry for education. This year, we awarded more than 2,100 certificates and degrees, launching more than 2,000 new teachers, police officers, nurses and other professionals who our community desperately needs.
Our growing enrollment means that the demand for a college education does not decrease in tough economic times, just the opposite – our community sees the value learning new skills and earning university credentials to become more valuable in the workforce. As our budgets remain lean, we must be innovative in our work to continue to provide exceptional service to our students.
Our work at this community university has never been more important, and I am honored to be a part of it.