News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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May 26, 2010

Indiana State University eyes possible large enrollment growth

Indiana State has 11,801 applications for admission from first-time freshmen, up 4,019 over a year ago

TERRE HAUTE — Freshman enrollment at Indiana State University could increase substantially this fall, based on some promising indicators in applications and admissions to-date.

As of May 15, ISU had 11,801 applications for admission from first-time freshmen, up 4,019, or 52 percent, over a year ago.

Out of the 11,801 applications, 8,176 have been admitted, 2,933 more than a year ago (up 56 percent).

The big question is how many of those admitted will actually enroll in the fall.

John Beacon, ISU vice president for enrollment management, declined to commit to a number when asked about possible fall enrollment, but did say, “There is reason to be optimistic and enthusiastic about fall enrollment.”

Typically, the percentage of those admitted who eventually enroll is about 36 percent — which would point to an increase of about 900 students.

Beacon cautions that “this is such an anomaly of a year for us” and a lot can happen between now and August, when students arrive on campus. Many factors could impact final fall enrollment.

For the past several years, ISU has seen “measured growth” in its first-time freshman enrollment, he said.

ISU’s target has been to have at least 2,085 first-time freshmen next fall, 50 more than last year, and Beacon believes ISU will reach it.

In addition to increased applications and admissions, there are other positive indicators. Beacon said 2,137 admitted students have already made reservations to attend freshman orientation this summer, at least 1,000 more than last year.

Also, ISU distributed 735 free laptops last fall to entering freshmen who had at least a 3.0 grade-point average and a Core 40 diploma (or equivalent). So far, 1,077 qualifying freshmen have accepted laptop offers for this fall. The laptop award is a scholarship program.

“We’re watching carefully. We’ll know a lot more at the end of June, when orientation is complete,” Beacon said. The focus will be on making sure students who attend orientation follow through and enroll.

Asked about possible reasons for the increased number of applications and admissions, Beacon suggested that ISU has become more of a first-choice destination for many students.

He sees increased pride both on and off campus, and ISU is attracting more students who are well-qualified academically.

“We have all of the advantages of attending a large public comprehensive university, but on a smaller scale and at a very competitive and reasonable cost,” he said.

ISU could also see more students from Illinois, particularly in the Chicago/Cook County area, where ISU has had an admissions representative for two years. “We’re starting to see some results from that,” Beacon said.

Last year, ISU had 314 applications and 158 admissions from Cook County. This year, as of May 1, ISU had 871 applications and 575 admissions from that area.

Illinois students who have at least a 2.5 grade-point average qualify for ISU’s “Illinois student scholarship,” which means a reduced tuition rate.

Instead of paying full out-of-state tuition, those Illinois students pay a reduced rate equaling 125 percent of ISU’s in-state tuition.

According to ISU’s website, “This special reduced fee rate enables eligible Illinois residents to attend Indiana State University at a rate similar to most Illinois public colleges and universities.”

ISU is preparing for the possibility of increased freshmen enrollment this fall, and one of those areas of preparation is housing.

“We have alternative plans we’re working on,” Beacon said. If necessary, single rooms could be used to house two students. Use of hotel rooms “is a possibility,” he said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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