For the second consecutive year and the third out of the last four, enrollment has dropped at Ferris.
On Thursday, Aug. 31, the university took its official fourth day count and revealed that enrollment has yet again decreased. According to the university’s online enrollment records, which date back to 2002, this year’s decrease of 389 students (2.7 percent), coupled with 2016’s decrease of 528 students (3.5 percent) are by far the two worst years for enrollment at Ferris.
In fact, the combined total amount of students lost from every year that enrollment declined between 2002 and 2015 only totals 297, which is 92 students less than this year alone, according to the online enrollment records.
Secondary education senior Nick Seraphinoff believes students’ financial issues may partially be to blame.
“I definitely think that tuition increases could play a huge roll,” Seraphinoff said. “The price of tuition has just continuously increased. Even working while you’re going to university, you’re still gaining a decent amount of debt and people just don’t think they’ll be able to climb out of that hole.”
Ferris Dean of Enrollment Services and Director of Admissions and Records Dr. Kristen Salomonson said that two important issues are to blame for this trend.
“The first is a persistent overall decline in the number of high school graduates in Michigan,” Salomonson said. “This is critical for our freshmen population numbers. It won’t be brighter anytime soon.”
Referencing the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Salomonson noted that the number of high school graduates in Michigan is predicted to decline by 13 percent between now and 2031.
“Second, the number of students attending community colleges has also seen declines over the past four years. This translates into fewer students looking to transfer to Ferris to complete their degrees,” Salomonson said.
The university has taken a wide variety of approaches to combat the loss in enrollment including enhanced dollar amounts for scholarships and Ferris application week, which was a weeklong virtual application event held in February that resulted in an increase of 178 applicants compared with the same week last year.
“The leadership at Ferris State University is committed to a fiscally conservative and transparent budgeting philosophy. When there are fewer financial resources, the University reduces its operating budget accordingly,” Salomonson said. “Our President’s commitment to maintaining tuition levels with increases as small as possible is strong. Ferris is consistently under the state cap for percentage increases. This is possible because of careful budget management.”