Ferris’ enrollment has declined for the third consecutive year, this time by the most substantial amount in at least 15 years.
According to Ferris’ online enrollment records, which date back to 2002, this year’s decline in enrollment of 535 students is the largest in that timespan. Previously, the most signicant declines came in 2016 and 2017 when enrollment decreased by 528 and 389 students respectively. This year marks the third consecutive year and fourth out of the last five that enrollment has declined.
For Ferris, much like many other Michigan universities, the decline in enrollment was expected as the number of high school graduates continues to shrink throughout the state.
“The most signicant factor in our enrollment decline is the demographic landscape in our state and region. Projections until 2032 indicate that Michigan will drop to 88,000 high school graduates. After 2032, there is projected to be a slight uptick in the numbers. To compare, in 2013 there were 111,000 high school graduates,” Ferris Dean of Enrollment Services and Director of Admissions and Records Kristen Salomonson said. “The declines will continue for 10- plus years, and Michigan’s post-secondary institutions will be competing for a shrinking pool.”
Ferris’ 4.4 percent decrease is more substantial than some other comparable universities, but throughout the state, most colleges and universities are also suffering from the decline in high school students. All but two community colleges in Michigan experienced a decrease in enrollment this year. Grand Valley State University experienced a 1.7 percent decrease this year, and Central Michigan University enrollment declined by seven percent. While many universities have not yet released their winter semester enrollment data, universities such as Saginaw Valley State University and Northern Michigan University both reported declines in enrollment during the fall semester.
Ferris’ most signicant decline came from the College of Health Professions, which lost 178 students this year. Some Ferris students think that the college may need updates to help attract more students.
“I feel like we denitely need an upgrade in our buildings. I know the Business Building just got an upgrade and I don’t think the programs in health care have gotten the upgrades that they need,” Ferris pre-pharmacy freshman Kari Olsen said.
As for the enrollment decline’s impact on students, Salomonson says that the university is committed to keeping Ferris affordable for students and that the enrollment decline will not impact tuition increases.
“One of the university’s core values is opportunity, and we want to reduce financial barriers wherever possible. We have raised tuition consistent with the State of Michigan’s percentage increase limits. When tuition revenue is down, we respond by reducing our expenditures. We do not use tuition as a tool to alleviate revenue shortfalls,” Salomonson said.
Despite enrollment not impacting tuition raises, Ferris has raised tuition by 37.6 percent for juniors and seniors over the last 10 years, and by 33.2 percent for freshmen and sophomores. Some students think that increasing tuition prices may be factoring into enrollment.
Ferris sports communication sophomore Nathan Ostaszewski said he believes that the tuition increases are deterring potential students, adding that for a lot of students who don’t have the money to attend Ferris, it makes more sense to attend a cheaper university.
“It’s probably cheaper to go somewhere else. Ferris is kind of in the middle of nowhere as well so it might be easier going to a community college instead of Ferris,” Ostaszewski said.