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Fall Enrollment Falling Short of Goal
by Silence Dogood

The following Figure shows the fall FYE enrollment for SCSU from Fall 2006 through Fall 2013.

From the Figure, it is clear enrollment trends between Fall’06 to Fall’10 (increasing at a steady rate) and Fall’10 to Fall’13 (decreasing at a more rapid rate) are very different!

In Fall’13, the enrollment at SCSU was 6,083 FYE. As of August 19, 2014 the enrollment is 5,033 FYE, which is 1,050 FYE lower than the previous year and corresponds to a decline of 17.3%. If this was all there was to it, it would look REALLY bad! However, last fall there were also 567 FYE added due to concurrent enrollment students (on campus PSEO and S2S students). Since these students are typically added throughout fall semester it might be fair to add 567 FYE, which would bring the total to 5,600 FYE. As a result, this would reduce the drop from 1,050 FYE to 483 FYE or a decline of 7.9%. This might look a bit better.

Unfortunately, this is an overly simplistic solution and there are a couple of complications that need to be considered. Bear with me as I work through my approach to estimating Fall enrollment at SCSU.
First, the concurrent enrollment will most likely be higher than the previous year (based on recent enrollment trends in concurrent enrollment). If we assume a 10% growth, would translate into an additional 57 FYE. This would increase the fall enrollment to 5,657 FYE and corresponds to a decline of 7.0%. However, some of the estimated 624 FYE (567 + 57 = 624) of concurrent enrollment students are already registered. A majority of the on campus PSEO students have already registered for fall classes and a few of the S2S students are registered as well. Based on historical trends, if we assume that approximately 1/3rd of the students are registered, approximately 200 FYE need to be subtracted. This would reduce the fall enrollment to 5,400 FYE and corresponds to a drop of 11.2% on a year-to-year comparison.

Secondly, there are a number of students still to be registered. As a result, Fall’14 enrollment will not be down 11.2%! Last fall there were 83 new entering international students—most of whom were not yet in the US and probably not registered until the beginning of classes (which is next Monday). If we assume the same number of international students, increased by 10%, this will lead to approximately an additional 40 FYE. There will also be some additional new entering freshman (NEF) and new entering transfer students (NET), which could bump up enrollments approximately another 100 FYE.

Lastly, the graduate school produced 525 FYE in Fall’13 so some new and returning graduate students are still to register. As a WAG (wild ass guess), let’s assume that 150 FYE of graduate students are still to register. Combining all of these together yields a fall enrollment of 5,694 FYE. This number would translate into an overall decline of 6.4%.

The following Figure shows the Fall FYE enrollment for SCSU from 2006 through 2014—including an estimated 6.0% decline for Fall’14. The enrollment decline is reduced to 6.0% because of the uncertainty in some of the data and in hope of making a more conservative estimate of the decline.

It doesn’t take a degree in data analytics to see that there is a significant enrollment problem! In fact, the data analytics group projected a 3.3% decline this spring for FY15 enrollments and it doesn’t look like that projection is going to be very accurate! Remember, Summer FYE is in the bank and by the end of Fall semester about 60% of all fiscal year enrollment will have occurred thus making it very hard to affect the total decline.

Enrollment also translates almost directly into money. Last spring, when the administration was planning for an enrollment decline of 3.3%, it announced that it was beginning to plan for the $3,600,000 resultant shortfall. So, unless the enrollment totals 5,885 FYE (which would be the enrollment for a 3.3% decline), additional cuts will have to be made or funds will need to be drawn from the reserves. Last fall, former Provost Devinder Malhotra (now Interim President at Metro) stated that for each percent decline in enrollment an additional $628,000 would have to be cut from the budget. If former Provost Malhotra’s estimate of the financial impact for declining enrollment is correct, an additional $1,700,000 would have to be cut from the budget.

No one is talking about the data analytics group wildly missing the enrollment projection (82% error) or where the additional funds will come from. President Potter in his convocation address on Wednesday morning did not mention enrollment and only vaguely talked of “challenges” for the year. At some point, the President is going to have to admit that there is a serious enrollment problem. If the enrollment for the FY15 is down 6.0% and since the summer was down 9.4% this would require significant increases in enrollment for spring semester just to be only down 6.0% for the year, SCSU’s enrollment will fall to 11,661 FYE. From the enrollment high of 15,096 FYE in FY10, this represents a 22.8% drop in five years.

No one knows if this is the ‘right size’ but one university President remarked that ‘right sizing’ is just another word for failure. You decide if this enrollment trend is being successful. However, the one positive of declining enrollment is that finding parking around campus shouldn’t be a problem anymore!

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