Latest Fall Enrollment Numbers—Heading Towards Third
by Silence Dogood

The MnSCU website lists current FYE Fall enrollment numbers for MnSCU universities as of November 16, 2014. When these numbers are compared with the final fall enrollment numbers, the following figure is obtained:

While these are not final enrollment numbers—they do not become final until 45 days after the end of the semester—they are probably not far from what they will be. There may still be some second trimester Senior-to-Sophomore classes left to be added but it is unlikely that it will reduce the FYE decline substantially.

It is clear from the figure that the enrollment fortunes for all of the MnSCU universities are not the same. In fact, Southwest is actually showing a small increase. If we assume that each FYE is equal to $11,500 in revenue (tuition and state appropriation), a decline of 283 FYE represents a loss of $3,254,000.

Tammy McGee, Vice President for Finance and Administration confirmed the budget shortfall in a November 12, 2014 email:

In May, the enrollment projection was increased from a decline of 3.2% to a decline of between 4-5%.

For those that are interested in the details, the MnSCU website shows that Mankato currently has 6,635 FYE for Fall semester compared to SCSU’s 5,735 FYE. As a result, in Fall, Mankato is larger than SCSU by 900 FYE. If you look at headcount and count all of the high school students that SCSU enrolls, SCSU is actually ‘larger’ than Mankato. However, it’s the 900 FYE difference that translates into budget dollars—not headcount. Presidents seem to enjoy talking about headcount enrollments because they are always larger than the more important FYE enrollment.

SCSU’s decline of 283 FYE for fall is nearly four times larger than the 72 FYE decline at Mankato. When you look at summer, Mankato had 204 FYE more than SCSU. Combining Summer and Fall FYE enrollments, Mankato has 1,104 FYE more than SCSU. Once again, using $11,500 for the revenue from the combined tuition and state appropriation gives Mankato an estimated $11,592,000 revenue advantage over SCSU. If allowance is made for the reduced revenue from concurrently enrolled students, since SCSU has a much larger penetration in the high school market than does Mankato, the revenue gap is substantially larger.

The following figure shows the FYE enrollment by fiscal year for Mankato and SCSU:

Through FY11, SCSU had an advantage in FYE enrollment over rival Mankato. Starting in FY12, Mankato became larger than SCSU (at least in terms of FYE).

The following figure shows the difference in FYE between SCSU and Mankato by fiscal year.

A positive number means SCSU’s FYE enrollment was larger than Mankato’s. Correspondingly, a negative number means Mankato’s FYE enrollment was larger than SCSU’s. From 2008 through 2010, SCSU’s lead was increasing. In 2011, SCSU’s lead was cut nearly in half. Beginning in FY12, Mankato moved ahead of SCSU. What’s potentially scary is that the rate of increase is increasing!

Combining summer and fall enrollments for FY15, Mankato is already ahead of SCSU by 1,102 FYE. With the numbers for spring still to come in, it might not be hard to predict that Mankato’s lead over SCSU will increase even more.

Perhaps SCSU needs to stop advertising being the “second largest university in Minnesota” and consider what it means to be number three.

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