President's Newsletter March 2017

Budget & Enrollment

As of the end of spring add/drop, the university has retained 93% of the fall 2016 freshmen. This is a record high over the last 10 years. Retention of upperclassmen also slightly exceeded goal. These results reflect good student satisfaction but also hard work by many faculty and staff. The Retention Council continues to closely monitor the freshman and upper class retention rates as well as tracking the performance of individual students.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions met their new student recruitment goal for January. So the full-time undergrad enrollment, as of early February, was above goal at 1401, a welcome improvement from our fall semester results that partially offsets the significant increase of financial aid expenditures allocated for our students.

Admissions is currently working towards the fall 2017 goal of enrolling 490 new students, comprised of 400 freshmen and 90 transfers, though naturally we are budgeting more conservatively given our recent experience and the challenging competitive environment.

There are some promising signs. Attendance at the spring Scholarship Luncheon (the first major yield event of the semester) was a record high of 168 students, along with their families. Many thanks to all of the faculty and staff who participated.

With the first year of Early FAFSA filing in the books, there are other encouraging trends for fall enrollment. The first freshman packages were sent in late November. As of early February, over 90% of our total accepted students had received a financial aid package, with more than 69% of those having filed FAFSAs. To date, completed 2017-18 FAFSA filings have increased by 39% over 2016-2017.

Along with increased undergraduate applications, accepted student numbers are also running significantly ahead (about 14%) of last year. Yet despite these positive trends, deposits are not showing a comparable increase, so our staff is aggressively seeking to improve the yield of students for the Class of 2021.

Online degree programs continue to flourish, with increased inquiries, applications and enrollment for graduate and adult undergraduate programs. But on-ground enrollment continues to decline. In addition, an increasing number of adult learners are unable to progress due to financial issues, having already borrowed near or at their aggregate limit prior to arriving at Alvernia.

To better manage inquiries and communication flow, the School of Graduate and Adult Education (SGAE) is moving to the same Customer Relations Management tool (CRM) as utilized by Undergraduate Admissions. Integration should be completed by August. SGAE is also developing its first comprehensive retention plan to cover all adult learners, including doctoral programs, online and partnership development at all locations.

In addition, SGAE is expanding non-degree options with local and regional partners. Some are fully online, such as for attorneys at Stevens and Lee; others will combine different approaches, such as with the Caron Foundation.

> Continue to the FACULTY EXCELLENCE section

president's newsletter march 2017

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