South Florida college applications, enrollments soaring
By Ryan Kelly
The number of applicants and total enrollment continues to rise at South Florida colleges despite escalating tuition costs.
The University of Miami, Miami Dade College and Florida International University all report a growing undergraduate class in recent academic years.
The impact of the growth varies depending on the school.
At the University of Miami, more applications mean more choices, said Edward Gillis, executive director of admissions, who has seen consistent year-over-year increase in applicants.
"The difference has really been with the increase in applications," he said. "We're been able to be more selective and bring in a more highly qualified class…"
The number of undergraduate applications at UM is up about 1,800, or 6%, to 27,700, Mr. Gillis said.
The private university aims to admit about 2,000 freshmen each year.
Tuition is up again as well, he said. "It goes up a few percentage points a year…"
The University of Miami's undergraduate tuition this year is $1,538 per credit hour.
The costs for new, in-state undergraduates at Florida International University is $177.56 per credit hour, up from $158.10 last school year and $142.04 in 2009, representing a jump of about 10% a year, according to its provost office.
FIU is also seeing a surge in enrollment from previous years, said Douglas Wartzok, the provost and executive vice president. "This fall will probably be in the neighborhood of 2,000 more students than last fall."
A total of 32,901 undergraduates enrolled at the public institution last fall, admitting 39% of applicants compared to 35% in 2009, according to its provost office.
FIU has been growing for some time, Mr. Wartzok said, but the growth hasn't always been in the spotlight.
"Over the past decade we grew at between 1,000 and 1,500 students a year," he said. "It's just that we never made a particular announcement about it."
Miami Dade College, the largest college in the US with eight campuses, is seeing a similar trend, with enrollment rising every year.
"The good news is, it's up," said Rene Garcia, district director of enrollment management at MDC.
"That may also be the bad news," he said, as the college is growing in students but resources are shrinking.
"Our resources have been reduced every year for the past several years," he said, "which coincide with increasing enrollment, which makes for an interesting situation."
For the first time, MDC initiated staggered class registration this year to help ensure that current students have first priority to enroll in classes.
The "last two or three years, enrollment has gone up 20% or 30%," Mr. Garcia said, which translates roughly into 80,000 to 90,000 added credit hours.
The strain of increasing enrollment is felt everywhere, he added, including the financial aid offices, where applications for assistance to pay tuition costs have risen 40% to 50%.
Fall enrollment figures for MDC aren't final, but the school saw a 5% increase this summer from last and a 7.7% jump in the spring.
"What I can tell you without hesitation," Mr. Garcia said, "is we have a lot of more students."
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