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Enrollment drops from fall semester

February 10, 2012

The halls at UW-River Falls will feel less crowded this semester with enrollment down from previous semesters. The enrollment status for spring 2012 according to Tynan Heller, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University, is 6,119 students compared to 6,900 students in fall 2010 when the University had a record-breaking enrollment.

“Our fall 2011 headcount was down less than 100 compared to fall 2010,” said Blake Fry, special assistant to the chancellor at the University. “While a lower headcount was not our enrollment goal, a slight decline is not completely unexpected.”

The number of high school graduates in Wisconsin and Minnesota are entering a trough right now that will last for the next several years.

“When the official fall 2011 enrollments are released for all of the UW-System institutions, there were several that had a decline in enrollment,” Fry said, “As tuition is now the leading source of revenue for UW-Systems, there is a negative impact on the institutions bottom line when enrollment decreases.” Even though enrollment is low, students should not be worried that it is going to have a big impact on their tuition.

“Tuition is set several months prior to the beginning of the year and any increase is consistent among all UWSystem campuses,” Fry said. “So the enrollment fluctuations of any individual campus have little to no impact on the cost of tuition.” There is also an emphasis at the University on using tuition dollars to make up for budget cuts.

“The 5 percent tuition increase was just one of several tools used to address the budget cuts to the UW-System”, Fry said. “As it turns out, the revenue from the tuition increases is almost an exact match the amount the UWSystem is being asked to give back to the state to address the budget lapse.”

The low enrollment status could very well be a sign of the times. With so many people struggling financially to support themselves, college may just be out of the question right now. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans around 57 percent believe that the higher education system in the U. S. fails to provide students with good value for the money they and, in some cases there families would spend. An even larger amount, 75 percent said that college was too expensive for most Americans to afford. However, 86 percent of college graduates did say that college has been a good investment personally in their own lives.

The survey also goes on to say that the main barrier to attending college is financial reasons. Among people ages 18-34 who are not in school and do not have a Bachelor’s degree. Two-thirds said that the major reason for not continuing their education is a need to support their a family.

“The University has developed enrollment and admission plans that include measures to mitigate the effect a lower number of high school graduates will have upon our enrollment,” Fry said.