SF State saw a sharp decline in incoming transfer undergraduate applicants this year, raising concerns over the university’s bottom line.
During an Oct. 10 budget committee meeting, Sutee Sujitparapitaya, associate provost of Institutional Analytics, told senior SF State administration and faculty that transferring undergrads went from more than 23,000 in Fall 2017 to just under 16,000 in 2018.
The information prompted committee member and mathematics professor Sheldon Axler to worry over a possible significant impact on the budget for the coming year.
“A 30 percent drop in one year?” Axler said. “If that continues, that’s a serious, long-term problem.”
Sujitparapitaya assured committee members the impact would be slight. The budget for enrollment is provided by the CSU Chancellor’s Office to SF State based on “full time equivalent” (FTE) students who are California residents. FTE students are undergraduate students taking 15 units and graduate students taking 12 units.
“We projected that the 2018-19 FTEs for California resident students will be about the same or slightly higher than last year,” Sujitparapitaya said. “Therefore, the budget for enrollment would not be as significantly affected.”
Sujitparapitaya also pointed out that the amount of continuing students, or students that are going on to another semester, has increased compared to the amount of new students, with 323 continuing students added between Fall 2017 and Fall 2018, compared to a drop of 357 new students in the same time period.
Maria Martinez, associate vice president of Enrollment Management, gave a few potential reasons for the sharp decline in new undergraduate transfer applications.
At the meeting, Martinez described a “perfect storm” to explain the drop in applications, due to the UC system developing its own “transfer pathways,” or course sequences, for community college students.
In April of 2018, the UC system announced a plan to guarantee admission to community college students that maintain a certain GPA while completing one of the newly approved pathways. Previously, the UC system would only prefer community college students during admissions.
The CSU Chancellor’s Office takes into account enrollment for the entire year, so Martinez believes increasing summer enrollment of continuing students helps with student retention.
“As much of 90 percent of students who enroll in the summer will enroll in the fall,” Martinez said.
Martinez outlined an upcoming initiative to increase summer enrollment by giving housing priority to some second-year students who enroll in summer classes as freshmen. For Martinez, housing is one of the larger issues at hand since many freshmen coming to SF State often come from farther away in California.
“The idea is that most new freshmen are not from the area, so they need to apply for housing their second year,” Martinez said. “When they go into their second year, there’s no guarantee where they’re going to live.”
Martinez hopes to start advertising the initiative sometime in October with Residential Life.
Summer enrollment data from Institutional Analytics in 2017 finds that 6,442 students were enrolled at SF State during summer, making it the second largest CSU campus for summer enrollment behind San Diego State University.
Martinez isn’t entirely sure how many students are affected by having to apply for housing their second year. However, Martinez hopes that this initiative will also help significantly with enrollment efforts for continuing students.