A new strategic initiative aimed at ensuring students are academically prepared to enroll combined with one of the longest, deepest economic slowdowns in American history has led to a smaller but academically stronger student population for fall 2012, University of Toledo officials announced Tuesday.
“While this year’s class is a bit smaller, it is also better-prepared for the rigors of a college education,” said UT President Lloyd Jacobs. “Traditionally, students who apply for admission late in the summer are among the least likely to return the following year, let alone earn a degree. This year we stopped enrolling students July 31.”
Across all campuses, UT enrolled 21,500 undergraduate and graduate students this semester. A total of 22,624 were enrolled at this time last year. UT’s full-time equivalency (FTE) — the figure used to determine state subsidy — was 18,109. UT’s FTE was 19,059 at this time last year. FTE is the total number of course credit hours taken by students divided by 15, and it often conveys a more accurate representation of the way enrollment affects an institution’s finances.
As evidence of the strategy’s success, Jacobs pointed to the fact that 98 percent of the decline among first-year, full-time students was among those who graduated from high school with a GPA below 3.0.
“It doesn’t help an underprepared student for UT to accept him, give him a bill or loan debt only to see him leave school before he graduates and feels like he’s failed,” Jacobs said, adding cost as another reason numbers may be down.
“We’ve always been among the leaders in working to keep costs down,” Jacobs said, pointing to the tuition freeze UT led several years ago as well as the 0 percent fee increase implemented this year. “But at the same time, many of the students who wanted to return to college and retool following the recession have now done that and returned to the marketplace.”
Jacobs said UT continues to increase its investments in financial aid and emphasized that the return on investment for a college degree is still one of the best available.