The most difficult part about decreasing student enrollment to where it needed to be by fall quarter was rejecting more than two-thirds of Cal Poly’s freshman applicants, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Koob said.
Cal Poly, along with the rest of the colleges in the California State University system, was told by the chancellor’s office to cut student numbers this year in order to save money. The decision put Cal Poly on track to meet the required enrollment target set by the chancellor’s office of 15,702 full time equivalent students.
Last year’s total enrollment for the 23 CSU campuses peaked at 357,000 full time equivalent students but was reduced to 343,000 by the end of the school year. The chancellor’s office was forced to shave the number to 310,000 this year because of a $685 million budget cut to the CSU system, said Eric Forbes, director of enrollment management services for the California State University.
By rejecting more freshman applicants, dismissing students on academic probation and helping students that have been enrolled for more than four years to graduate, Cal Poly was able to achieve enrollment goals.
A record 33,626 freshmen applied for fall, of which the university selected 10,918. The final number of those who accepted offers will be available in September, but an estimate is about 3,500 new freshmen, Koob said.
Students surpassing four years were forced to graduate in order to cut numbers as well. These were students who had waited to take their final units in order to take additional classes, postpone graduation or stay in San Luis Obispo, Director of Institutional Planning and Analysis Brent Goodman said. They were given contracts forcing them to complete their remaining degree requirements as soon as the classes were made available.
Cal Poly also started to enforce academic probation guidelines more strictly, Goodman said.
“We tried to focus on areas where we knew students weren’t going to be successful,” Goodman said.
In previous years, students were given multiple quarters to get off of academic probation. Now, students must raise their grade point average above 2.0 by the following quarter or likely be dismissed from the university.
The most difficult part was attempting to keep class offerings similar to what it has been in recent years while keeping enough faculty and staff employed to meet the needs of the students, Goodman said. To make sure this didn’t happen, Cal Poly looked into additional ways to increase funds while still meeting the specified number of full-time equivalent students.
Cal Poly was able to get money by accepting more out-of-state students. This allowed the university to maintain class offerings, class sizes and faculty numbers.
“About 10 percent of our incoming class this year will be from out-of-state. The reason for that is they don’t count against our in-state enrollment,” Koob said. “They pay a large tuition that covers the cost of attendance here, so they allow us to keep more faculty and staff employed.”
The university’s average cost of attendance per student runs at about $12,000 per year, Koob said.
Last year’s freshman class had already been admitted when budget cuts were instituted, so the university had to use furloughs to make up for the cost deficit, Koob said.
With no furloughs this year, the total number of out-of-state students was raised to an estimated 961 as of Sept. 1, Goodman said.
The addition of out-of-state students was essential for Cal Poly to maintain the overall feel within each classroom, Media Team Leader Stacia Momburg said.
“Without more out-of-state students, the trademark small classes would have to be changed to more traditional lecture hall type classes,” Momburg said. “It costs less money to have one professor teach one class of 120 students than it costs five professors to teach five classes of 20 to 30 students.”
Other ways Cal Poly saved money was by decreasing the number of electives offered, by asking more professors to teach general education classes and by suspending several building projects, Momburg said.
The upcoming school year’s recruitment of students has already been completed so no additional student numbers will be cut this year, Koob said.
Whether or not Cal Poly will continue to decrease enrollment and make adjustments to save money next year remains to be seen.
“That depends entirely upon what happens with the state’s budget,” Koob said. “The numbers may change but a rough estimate says it will remain constant or rise slightly.”
What is a full time equivalent student?*
~ Start with…
Total Students (Headcount)- 16,779
~ Divide total Student Credit Units (SCU’s) by one full time equivalent student (FTEs)
~ One FTEs equals 15 SCU’s for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students
~ One FTEs equals 12 SCU’s for graduate students
Total Student Credit Units (SCU’s)- 224,227
Undergraduate: 219,676 / 15 = 14,645.1
Post-Baccalaureate: 446 / 15 = 29.7
Graduate: 4,105 / 12 = 342.1
~ Add together to get total number of FTEs
= 14,645.1 + 29.7 + 342.1
Total FTE Students (FTEs)- 15,016.9
~ Headcounts are higher than FTEs
* Numbers are as of Aug. 1, 2010
Suspended Building Projects:
Graphic Arts- Refurbish air handling units
Walter F. Dexter- R&R air handling units
Mathematics and Science- Refurbish air handling units
Robert E. Mott Physical Education- Refurbish air handling units
Engineering South- Install hot water heat exchanger
Administration- Replace weather stripping
Robert E. Kennedy Library- Reroof Kennedy Library eyebrow roofs
Cotchett Education- Replace gutters
Architecture and Environmental Design- ADA sliding door 101 and hardware door 302
Ag Engineering- Paint inside and out
Engineering- Window and window treatment replacement
Walter F. Dexter- Replace penthouse roof
Robert E. Mott Physical Education- Replace scalloped roof