By John Reed
On October 1, East Stroudsburg University announced an increase in student enrollment for the first time since fall 2009.
The total enrollment for the fall semester amounted to 6,812 students, which is an increase from the fall 2013 enrollment of 6,778. ESU’s enrollment increase represents the highest growth percentage at all PASSHE schools.
“This enrollment growth didn’t happen overnight,” said VP for enrollment management David Bousquet.
Bousquet added that the tremendous effort by ESU’s admissions team resulted in the largest incoming class of freshman in three years — a 6.4 percent increase over the previous year’s class.
“Their efforts were instrumental to ESU’s enrollment growth at a time when many universities in Pennsylvania and nationwide are experiencing a drop in the size of their freshman class,” continued Bousquet.
ESU faculty had a key role in contributing to the increased enrollment by generating an accurate census count to determine exact course enrollments.
Increased enrollment is a positive initial step, but ESU must continue to carry this momentum forward to see consistent growth. As recently as 2009, the school boasted a much larger student body with total enrollment at 7,576.
Retention of students is just as important as new student enrollment, which has been an issue recently.
“Three hundred students [from] the 2013 freshman class did not return this fall,” said Bousquet.
Despite the loss of returning freshmen, ESU has seen an uptick in the number of Pennsylvania residents that have enrolled as freshman for the current academic year.
In-state freshmen totaled 956 for this semester as compared to 836 from last year, which is nearly a 15 percent increase.
Graduate student enrollment increased for the second consecutive year from 592 to 614 — a four percent growth.
“At ESU, we’ve set the bar high and will move forward to continually improve our efforts to enroll, retain, and graduate qualified students one at a time,” said Bousquet.
ESU’s first enrollment increase since 2009 — coupled with changes in academic programs and other revenue enhancements — has allowed for a brighter outlook on the 2014-15 budget.
“These changes resulted in an additional $1 million in revenue for ESU to help us with the structural problems that continue to need work,” said ESU President Marcia G. Welsh.
The proposed budget for 2014-2015 is roughly $132.6 million split into three different funds: the educational and general fund, the restricted fund, and the auxiliary fund.
The bulk of the revenue for the proposed budget comes from the E&G fund, which totals approximately $98 million. The majority of this figure comes from tuition and fees as well as the State Appropriations the university receives.
The restricted fund makes up the smallest percentage of the budget at 12 percent ($15.8 million), but it is a reserve of money that is to be used for specific purposes. It allows for the university to provide reassurance to donors that their contributions will be used in the manner that they have chosen.
The auxiliary fund totals $18.8 million and results from the sale of merchandise and services by self-supporting operations.
Preliminary work on the 2015-16 budget has begun and will continue for the duration of the fiscal year.
“We remain fiscally challenged and need to continue to look for ways to tackle expenditures increasing more than three times the rate of revenue, largely due to escalating personnel cost and investment in our aging buildings and technology infrastructure,” said VP of Administration and Finance Ken Long.
Long added that the university has seen budget success for the current academic year due to administrative program changes, reductions in international student waivers, consolidation of services, and activity realignment with the ESU Foundation.
“ESU is an institution of great opportunity. We need to capitalize on our strengths and provide our students and the region with experiences that are both worthwhile and rewarding,” said Long.
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