Update on Fall 2011 Undergraduate Enrollment

Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,

Early July is an important milestone for assessing progress in meeting fall undergraduate enrollment goals. By now, wait-list activity is completed; three of four summer orientation programs have been held, summer "melt" (the number of students who sent in deposits and subsequently decide not to enroll) is heating up; summer transfer activity is at its peak, and most returning students have received their financial aid renewal awards. Commitment deposits, orientation program attendance, registration totals, summer melt and financial aid packaging totals continue to suggest that the College will substantially exceed its new undergraduate student enrollment, net tuition revenue budget and total undergraduate enrollment targets.

Read melt report.

First-Year Students

At the National Candidates Reply Date (May 1), deposits from first-year students were on track to meet the College's budget target of 630 students. Reports that many of our key competitors, particularly from the WCC, had fallen short of budget targets and were aggressively admitting waiting list students suggested that summer melt would be closer to a more typical 10% than last year's record low level. A modest number of waiting list students (22) were offered admission from our waiting list to provide a cushion for this purpose. Melt results to date (3.9%) indicate that total summer melt will likely reach 10%. Deposits totaling 699 as of July 1 point toward a fall 2011 first-year class of approximately 630. Quality indicators continue to project a class of unprecedented academic strength and diversity.

New Transfer Students

Transfer student admission activity since May 1 has paralleled last summer's record-high levels; applications, acceptances and deposits have all exceeded budgeted targets. As a result, new transfer student enrollment for fall 2011 will reach 200, slightly higher than the 180 anticipated on May 1.

Total Undergraduate Enrollment

Undergraduate registration data show higher-than-anticipated levels of returning student retention. Coupled with a larger-than-budgeted new student cohort (830 vs.760), total undergraduate enrollment may reach 2,800, exceeding the budget target by approximately 175 students.

Net Tuition Revenue

Financial aid tracking data indicate that new-student net tuition revenue will exceed the College budget committee target by $550 per student and last year's record level by $1530 (7.1%). Expressed in terms of nonathletic discount rate (proportion of tuition revenue expended as grant aid), this means that the discount rate for the new class of 34.5 percent will fall substantially below the original budget target of 36 percent but exceed the Trustee-mandated figure of 33 percent. This compares with 37 percent for last year's new student class.

Given the apparent increase in total undergraduate enrollment and higher-than-budgeted net revenue, total undergraduate revenues are projected to exceed budget targets by at least $3.5 million.

State Budget and Cal Grants

The recently adopted state budget provided funds for Cal Grants for new students at previous levels. Harmful funding cuts for public higher education institutions continue to raise concerns among prospective students about the ability of these institutions to provide access to desired educational opportunities. Transfer admission activity this summer indicates that California students will continue in the near term to look to high-quality independent institutions, such as Saint Mary's, in record numbers.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments about these data.


Michael Beseda

Vice Provost for Enrollment

Vice President for College Communications