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Universities see increase in applications, enrollment

Despite the sickened economy, application and enrollment numbers for colleges across the U.S. are increasing.

For Colorado State University’s 2009-2010 school year, application numbers have increased by almost 10 percent for in-state students and 4 percent for out-of-state students from last year’s numbers.

In the 2008-2009 school year, there were a total of 14,017 applicants for admittance into CSU. To date, CSU has received 15,028 freshman applications and 2,150 transfer student applicants, but these numbers are not final because applications are being accepted through July 1.

“Our application numbers are up by about 1,000 applications for freshmen,” said Larry Belasco, a CSU statistical analyst for Admissions. “We think that it is because of the economy being the way it is: People are deciding to stay in state to keep costs down.”

Out of the 2,150 transfer students, based on credits transferred, about 50 percent are freshmen, 25 percent are sophomores, 15 percent are juniors and 10 percent are seniors.

Belasco said CSU is still accepting all qualified students and will continue to do so until the deadline. Overall he said the budget cuts and the weak economy have not deterred increases in admissions or enrollment.

Resident tuition is $5,870 per year, not including living expenses or books. According to various university Web sites, attending an out-of-state college is often double or triple this amount before considering scholarships or financial aid.

Additionally, enrollment numbers are up not only in Colorado, but nationwide. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, college enrollment in two- and four-year colleges and universities throughout the nation is up 17 percent since the year 2000.

“(Enrollment) is a year-by-year thing – it depends on the economy and how attractive the school is to the seniors graduating from high school,” Belasco said.

“We hope application numbers keep increasing, and we are doing everything we can to keep them increasing, but we will just have to wait and see what happens.”

Even the Ivy League schools, which can be several times more expensive in tuition costs than in-state schools like CSU, have seen increased application numbers for the upcoming school year.

“Our application numbers as well as the number of students that we admitted for the 2009-2010 school year increased from last year,” an admissions assistant from Harvard said in a telephone interview.

“The number of applicants we had increased by over 100 students for the upcoming year.”

All of the Ivy League schools, with the exception of the University of Pennsylvania, which received 90 fewer applications this year than last year, witnessed increased application numbers.

Brown saw a 21 percent increase in applications from last year. Dartmouth saw a 9 percent increase. Harvard saw a 5 percent increase, and Yale saw a 14 percent increase.

According to Nancy Jianakoplos, a CSU economics professor, college becomes a more appealing option to people when the job market is limited and the economy is slow.

“For many people the ‘opportunity’ costs of going to college are lower now,” Jianakoplos said. “With unemployment up, people who go to college will not be giving up the alternative option of a well-paying job, so going to college becomes a more attractive option.”

What is beneficial and the best college option varies from person to person, she said.

“Each person must decide on the benefits versus the costs of going to college now,” Jianakoplos said.

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