Dear Colleagues,

The substantial growth in the size and quality of Saint Mary’s undergraduate student enrollment that began in fall 2010 continued for the fall 2012 term. Of particular note for fall 2012 is progress in strengthening new undergraduate enrollment in several targeted areas, including international students, African American students and transfer students enrolling with academic honors at entrance. The attached tables and charts provide descriptive and historical information on new undergraduate student enrollment.

Quantity

Total undergraduate enrollment of 2,863 is the largest in College history. Since fall 2009,  undergraduate headcount enrollment has grown by 20.3% (484 students). The fall 2012 total exceeds the College’s budget target by 40 students. A larger than budgeted new student enrollment (66 students) led to this result.

New undergraduate student enrollment of 826, the third highest in College history, is comprised of 623 first-year and 203 transfer students. As has been the case since the spring 2010 term, record high enrollment of transfer students has been the primary factor leading to growth in both new student and overall undergraduate enrollment.

Since fall 2009, applications for first-year admission have grown by 62.8% (2035.) For fall 2012, a 9% increase in first-year student applications, a record low admit rate (65%) and yield of 18% netted 623 new first-year students. Yield on admitted students has fallen by 25% (from 24.1% to this year’s 18.05) since fall 2010, a matter of some concern.

Transfer applications have risen a remarkable 84.5% (317) and enrollment by 65.0% (80 students) since fall 2009. For fall 2012, new transfer enrollment of 203 is the second highest in College history, only exceeded by the fall 2012 all-time high of 212. Yield on admitted transfer students has remained more constant than first-year student yield.

Quality

The strengthening of the academic profile of the College’s entering class that began in fall 2009 continued for fall 2012. A record number of first-year students enrolling with honors at entrance (114) and an all-time low admit rate (65%) resulted in the class’s average GPA and rising to 3.58 and a test score average of 1119, which is 1 point lower than last year’s 1120. Most striking was the all-time high enrollment of 40 new transfer students with academic honors at entrance (requiring a transfer GPA of 3.5 or better). This total compares with 8 students just three years ago!

Ethnic diversity of the entering class remained strong for fall 2012, with over 50% identifying themselves as other than white. Growth in African American students (from 4.8% last year to 6.4% for fall 2012) and in Latino students (25.8% last year to 27.0% this fall) was coupled with steady enrollment of Asian American (19.8%) and Native American students (2.9%.) International student enrollment nearly doubled to just under 3% of the entering class. Unlike growth in international students, the number of students enrolling from states other than California (69, or 11%) declined to the lowest level in over a decade.  The proportion of students enrolling from public high schools (61%) exceeded any previous year in College history.The male portion of the first-year class was the largest in a decade, 41.4%.

Economic Profile

In a year filled with public concern about the rising cost of college, student educational loan debt and cuts to Cal Grants, average net tuition per new student at Saint Mary’s rose to $23,255. The new student discount rate for fall 2012 of 34% was slightly lower than last fall’s 34.9% and in line with the College’s budget target even after making late adjustments due to the Governor’s Cal Grant reductions. The proportion of new students qualifying for Pell Grants declined slightly to 29%.

Competitiveness

The past year provided additional evidence of the extent to which prospective students in the West were looking for alternatives to the long dominate public sector of higher education. While students continued to apply to state institutions in large numbers, yield statistics indicate that students at both the first-year and transfer levels were much more likely to choose Saint Mary’s than CSU alternatives. At the same time, aggressive recruitment efforts, increased recognition of the strength of the College’s academic program and evidence of institutional progress on needed facility enhancements have all helped Saint Mary’s make inroads into the applicant pools of our independent competitors. Continued reductions in yield on admitted students, particularly honors students, suggest that the price sensitivity of heavily recruited students has grown and SMC’s ability to enroll these students will be greatly influenced by its ability to price itself competitively.

Looking Forward

Uncertainty about public funding for higher education, the fate of projected cuts to Cal Grants and proposals to create wide-ranging new scholarship programs for middle-income students attending CSU and UC campuses will cast a large shadow over the coming enrollment year. Recent reports from Sallie Mae indicate that families’ willingness and ability to pay for higher education has declined in each of the past two years.

Saint Mary’s enhanced academic reputation (as shown in its inclusion in College That Change Lives), along with attention gained from the Year of the Gael sesquicentennial celebration and a host of new recruitment tactics, many online, will provide additional opportunity for progress in strengthening the profile of our undergraduate student population in the coming year. Projected reductions in access to midyear admission at CSU have already increased interest at SMC. The year ahead will provide many opportunities for SMC to highlight ways that it serves the educational needs of our state and nation.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Michael Beseda
Vice Provost for Enrollment
Vice President for College Communications

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