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Mankato Wins the Contest for New Entering Freshman
by Silence Dogood

The 10th day enrollments are in and while the overall enrollment may change due to the numbers of concurrent enrollment students (high school students who receive credit for both high school and college courses at the same time) still to be registered, the number of New Entering Freshman (NEF) is pretty much their final number. The NEF headcount enrollments for SCSU and Minnesota State University-Mankato from Fall’08 to Fall’14 are shown in the following figure. The enrollment data for Mankato was provided by the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment at MSU-Mankato.

It’s not hard to see a see that there is a significant difference in the NEF numbers between the SCSU and Mankato. In Fall’08, SCSU was 29 NEF behind of Mankato. In Fall’09, SCSU moved back ahead of Mankato by 101 NEF. However, In Fall’10, Mankato moved past SCSU by 111 NEF and this represents a combined one-year change of 212 NEF. From that point on, the data shows the clear dominance in attracting NEF by MSU-Mankato.

In Fall’14 Mankato is ahead of SCSU by 586 NEF. In the last four years, Mankato has enrolled 2,225 more NEF than SCSU! Since it takes four to five years to work through the system to graduation, this enrollment difference is not going away any time soon.

As a result of enormous enrollment declines and poor financial management, SCSU is looking to cut $8-10 million from its current budget. At the same time, according to an article in the Mankato Free Press published on September 10, 2014,

With SCSU’s five straight years of enrollment decline including four years in a row of declines larger than 5% clearly, SCSU and Mankato are on different paths.

Just a simple calculation can show the financial impact of the differences between just the NEF for these two institutions. For budgeting purposes, each student taking a full load of credits (30 credits per year) generates over $7,000 in tuition and $4,500 in state appropriations. The combined total is $11,500 per student. For the 2,225 NEF that SCSU has ‘lost’ in the last four years, this represents a combined total of $25,600,000! Perhaps the administration has to rethink their calculation of an $8,000,000-$10,000,000 loss from enrollment declines. The administration’s gross underestimation of enrollment declines the past two years may have also translated into a gross underestimation of the amount of loss from the enrollment decline.

Only time will tell whether SCSU can recover from its unprecedented enrollment decline.

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