Mar 23, 2019

Budget cuts force cap on enrollment

In order to help the state close an $11 billion budget deficit, Fresno State will be accepting 500 fewer students in the fall, putting it in the same league as over-enrolled campuses in Fullerton, Northridge, Long Beach and San Diego.

Campuses that are cutting their share of the CSU system’s 10,000 over-enrollment figure are looking very seriously at which students they prioritize and which ones they will have to turn away. University President John Welty explained Wednesday how preferences will be determined in order to reach an enrollment target of 22,000 for the 2009-10 year.

“Our priority is to serve those students who have already been admitted and are enrolled,” Welty said. “The second priority is upper-division transfer students and the third priority is first-time freshmen.”

Lower division-transfer students will make up 300 of those students not admitted, students seeking a second bachelor’s degree or an unclassified post-baccalaureate degree will each make up 100 of those not admitted.

While upper-division transfer students have until April 1 to apply, the deadline for first-time freshmen is Feb. 1. Welty stressed that freshmen applicants should shoot for Nov. 30 to get the best chances of being admitted. He said this was especially true for students wanting to go to Fresno State but living outside of the university’s four-county service area, which includes Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties.

“Our system has always had an ongoing commitment to local students reached for the campuses that are in service areas identified for each campus,” said Welty, pointing out that some students may not be able to move away to school due to family commitments or financial issues.

He added that any students outside of Fresno State’s service area would be put on the wait list if they do not meet the Nov. 30 deadline. This may be substantial, as about 25 percent of Fresno State students come from somewhere outside of the four counties.

Yesterday, the CSU declared system-wide impaction, meaning many campuses could impose additional admission criteria on non-local students. Twelve campuses have already expressed that they would stop accepting applications from non-local students after the Nov. 30 deadline.

“The difference under the impaction is that it requires a lengthy process,” said Allison Jones, the CSU’s assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs. “The only thing you can do to relieve the pressure is stop admitting students.”

While the state provides around $8,000 per student, it is not clear just how much Fresno State will save by these measures as freshmen enrollment figures will not be finalized until March 1.

“Enrollment management is a science and an art,” said Bernie Vinovrski, associate vice president of enrollment services. “If the target is 22,000, we will be close to that target.”

Welty said the CSU system is being funded $215 million less than its current need to serve students, with Fresno State suffering from a $12 million shortfall. Already over-enrolled by 2.6 percent at 22,622 students total, the university will need to take steps in the coming year to reduce spending in order to coincide with current funding. Welty mentioned that one of these steps will be to maintain a hiring freeze, particularly for part-time faculty.

“The most important thing right now for the state of California is that the legislature needs to make decisions about the budget deficit it faces,” Welty said. “The longer we delay making a decision, the worse it’s going to get for all areas that are funded by the state, particularly for higher education.”

One decision that the state legislature will have to make in the near future is whether it will buy out a 10 percent fee increase proposed for the 2009-10 school year. But with student fees covering only one-fifth of the cost of education, even an increase may not satisfy the projected 2.5 percent enrollment growth for Fresno State.

“It is very, very difficult to take this step and it’s painful anytime you have to reduce access to students that are qualified for admission,” Welty said.

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