Update on Fall 2012 Undergraduate Enrollment

Dear Members of the Saint Mary’s College Community,

Early July is a useful point for assessing institutional progress in meeting fall undergraduate enrollment goals. At this point, wait-list activity has essentially ended, three of four summer orientation programs have been completed, "summer melt" (the number of deposited students who 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.

Unlike the past two summers, these indicators (commitment deposits, orientation program attendance, registration totals, summer melt and financial aid packaging totals) suggest that the College will meet but not substantially exceed its new undergraduate student enrollment, net tuition revenue budget and total undergraduate enrollment targets.

First-year students

At the National Candidates Reply date (May 1) deposits from first-year students were on track to modestly exceed the College’s budget target of 610 students. Reports that several 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 8%. Melt results to date (3.6%) are similar to last year’s level and suggest that total summer melt will be about 8%. Deposits totaling 675 as of July 1 point toward a fall 2012 first-year class of approximately 620. Academic and diversity characteristics continue to project a class of similar quality to last year’s.

New transfer students

Transfer student admission activity since May 1 has been markedly different from  the previous two years. Applications leading up to the July 1 deadline grew substantially compared with the previous two years, while the number of students admitted and committing is actually at a lower level. As a result, new transfer student enrollment for fall 2012 will reach 180, slightly higher than the 165 anticipated on May 1 but lower than in the past two fall terms.

Total undergraduate enrollment

Undergraduate registration data indicate that retention of returning students will meet the budget target. With the new student cohort now on track to be slightly larger than budgeted (800 vs. 760), total undergraduate enrollment is projected to exceed the College’s budget target of 2,813 by approximately 40 students.

Net tuition revenue

Financial aid data indicate that new student net tuition revenue is on track to meet the College’s budget target of $25,275, a 9.8% increase over last year’s revenue of $23,018. Expressed in terms of non-athletic discount rate (proportion of tuition revenue expended as grant aid), this means that the discount rate for the new class will be 34%, one percent lower than last year’s total. The proportion of new students who are Pell Grant eligible is 28%, slightly lower than last year’s 31%.
State Budget and Cal Grants

Although the legislature adopted a budget preserving Cal Grants for students at private not-for-profit institutions, the governor used his line-item veto authority to cut grants for students at institutions like Saint Mary’s by 5% — in most cases $485. This cut was in addition to changes in the Cal Grant program last year that removed several dozen SMC students from eligibility for these grants. While students await formal notification of the current year’s cuts from the California Student Aid Commission, we are reviewing ways that Saint Mary’s can best respond to this challenge.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments about this information.


Michael Beseda
Vice Provost for Enrollment
Vice President for College Communications