Fall 2012 Undergraduate Student Enrollment Indicators

Dear Members of the Saint Mary’s College Community,

I am writing to provide an update on fall 2012 undergraduate enrollment indicators after the May 1st National Candidates Reply Date. Deposits received as of May 6, 2012 suggest that the College is well on the way to meeting and perhaps exceeding its enrollment target of 760 new undergraduate students. In addition, new student commitments provide encouraging evidence of progress in meeting the College’s strategic enrollment objectives in areas such as admission selectivity, academic profile of transfer students, international student enrollment and net tuition revenue. Continued uncertainty about the Governor’s proposed cuts to Cal Grants make providing projections related to total financial aid expenditures, discount rate and net tuition revenue tenuous.  

The following additional observations arise from the May 6 data:  

1)    A total of 5,253 first year student applicants, a 67% increase in the past three years, allowed the Admission Office to be more selective than any previous year in College history, admitting 65% of applicants. Nearly 900 applicants, many highly qualified and admissible in any previous year, were placed on the College’s admission waiting list. More than 800 were denied first year admission. 

2)    The academic profile of the class of 2016 remains strong with average high school GPA (3.56) and test scores (SAT CR+M = 1120) nearly identical to last year’s entering cohort. Of note, transfer students enrolling with honors at entrance (33) are nearly double last year’s total at this point and more than three times the corresponding total in 2010. A 10% increase in students admitted with honors was offset by a decline in yield of those students, netting commitments from 118 students — similar to last year’s record high. 

3)    Ethnic diversity of the 2012 entering class remains strong with nearly 58% describing themselves as Latino, African American, Asian American or Native American. Commitments from African American first year students rebounded from last year’s low of 4.4% (28) to 6.3% (39). Commitments from new first year international students more than doubled to 18. 

4)    Yield (the portion of admitted students choosing to enroll at SMC) declined from 19.3% for fall 2011 to 18.3% for fall 2012, an all time low. The decline in yield was largest among some candidates, such as those admitted with academic honors (from 19.3% in fall 2011 to 13.3% in fall 2012) and low-income applicants, such as those eligible for Pell Grants. 

5)    Given typical “summer melt” of 10%, 665 first year student deposits are required to comfortably meet the College’s first year class enrollment goal. With 630 deposits at this point, a couple dozen of the most highly qualified students are currently being offered admission from the waiting list. Depending on variance in melt, a new first year class between 600 and 630 students seems likely. 

6)    Over $9.9 million in non-athletic institutional grant aid has been awarded to new students for fall 2012, averaging $13, 615 per student. These aid commitments project a new student discount rate of approximately 33% for fall 2012.  This compares with 35% for fall 2011 and 37% for fall 2010.  State budget uncertainty and the related potential impact on Cal Grants for new SMC students could significantly alter these figures.  

7)    Transfer application, admission and deposit totals as of May 6 closely parallel totals from the past two years. Assuming that transfer admission activity follows typical summer patterns, 105 current deposits project to approximately 165 new transfer students for fall 2012. Reduced access in California public institutions of higher education over the course of the summer may push this total even higher. 

8)    New student average net tuition of $24, 835 for fall 2012 is 6.2% higher than last year’s average on the same date ($23,390) and nearly 35% higher than the total three years ago.

NACAC’s (National Association of College Admission Counselors) annual May 1st Space Availability Survey of colleges yet to fill their entering class reported a record number of private colleges still accepting applications. This data coupled with our own declining yield from some highly desired populations and conversations with students throughout this recruitment cycle suggest that concerns about the cost of higher education and related loan debt have had a significant impact on student decision making for fall 2012.

Thank you to the many members of our campus community whose contributions of time and talent during this year’s enrollment process have made these results possible. 


Michael Beseda

Vice President for College Communications

Vice Provost for Enrollment