Statewide college enrollment steadily declines

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Statewide college enrollment steadily declines

Institution 15 day enrollment Percent change 2011 to 2012

Headcount change:

Central State University 2,152 (‐14.02%)

Miami University 16,924 (+1.16%)

Ohio State University 56,387 (‐0.84%) 

University of Cincinnati 33,347 (+0.05%) 

Wright State University 16,762 (‐8.28%) 

Cincinnati State Technical & Community College 10,614 (0.31%) 

Clark State Community College 4,977 (‐3.15%)

Edison State Community College 3,171 (‐8.72%)

Sinclair Community College 23,563 (‐5.70%)

SOURCE: Ohio Board of Regents

College enrollment statewide dropped nearly 5.9 percent since last year, falling closer to the pre-recession level of 2008, according to a preliminary report released Monday by the Ohio Board of Regents.

The number of students fell more than 31,600 at the state’s 61 public colleges and university main and regional campuses — a decline that was expected, but still hurt some financially and forced the layoff of 23 people at one community college. The enrollment decline is attributed to record number of students graduating last year ahead of the semester conversion completed by 17 institutions, changes to federal financial aid that mean fewer students are eligible, and an economy that has some choosing to work instead of attending school.

It is the second consecutive year enrollment has declined, after dipping 1 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the Board of Regents, which maintains historic enrollment data. Previously, enrollment had not fallen in two consecutive years since the 1990s, according to the data.

“After several consecutive years of robust gains in enrollment for many area colleges and universities, this type of leveling off is to be expected, especially as the economy improves and students put their degrees and training to work,” said Sean Creighton, executive director for the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education.

“Even though many campuses budgeted for a decrease, this still impacts business because there’s less total tuition revenue to support the ramp up of services and courses to meet the previous demand. If we start to see consecutive decreases, then campuses will be challenged to find a way to balance the loss of revenue,” he said.

In total, 507,425 students are enrolled in college in Ohio this fall, according to the preliminary report. A Dayton Daily News analysis of preliminary data on Sept. 19 found that nearly all the schools that underwent the semester conversion saw their enrollment fall.

Locally, Sinclair Community College put an additional $225,000 into marketing to attract students and avoid a deeper decline as it underwent the transition to semesters. Although the college first anticipated a drop of 20 percent, its enrollment fell about 5.7 percent, according to the state data.

Miami University in Oxford, which attracts mostly traditional students coming out of high school, saw its enrollment grow a small 1.16 percent.

However, the drop in students, and therefore the decline in revenue from their tuition, forced Hocking College in Nelsonville to lay off 23 people as of Nov. 2, reduce the contracts of four others and leave three positions unfilled to deal with a $4.3 million budget deficit because of 22 percent drop in enrollment, according to the college.

“There are a number of factors which could contribute to the enrollment decline in some of the colleges and universities including semester conversion which caused students to rush to complete their coursework last year,” said Kim Norris, spokeswoman for the Board of Regents. “Also, some community college enrollment is trending down after several years of record enrollment when the economy was at its lowest point.”

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