Kansas University’s total enrollment has steadily dropped in the past three years — by 542 students from 2009 to 2010 and by 744 from 2010 to last year. (The numbers for 2012 won’t be available until August.) The difference between 2009’s official numbers and 2011’s is about 4 percent.
Total Kansas University enrollment (all campuses) as of the 20th day of classes:
• Fall 2009: 30,004
• Fall 2010: 29,462
• Fall 2011: 28,718
Source: Office of Institutional Research and Planning
It may not seem like much, but with consistently declining enrollment over time, how is the university working to attract more students?
Lisa Pinamonti Kress, director of administration in the Office of Admissions and Scholarships, says a major revamp of the way the institution presents its financial aid information — and how it gives out cash to come — has helped make KU more attractive, especially to high-achieving students.
The biggest change this year is in the renewability of scholarships. Students who accept first-time freshmen scholarships through the admissions office can get them renewed for three more years by finishing at least 30 KU credit hours and a 3.4 grade point average. Before this year, scholarships beyond the first year were handed out by academic departments, not the main admissions and scholarships administration.
These scholarships range from $1,000 per year for a student with a combined ACT score of 24 to $10,000 for a National Merit Scholar. The office estimates the year’s tuition for a 2012 first-time, in-state freshman to be $8,364 per year — for 30 credit hours at the locked-in-for-four-years rate. For out-of-state students, it’s $21,750.
The aspiring Jayhawk applying for financial aid this year will get help not only in renewable scholarships but also in understanding cost and the help coming in, Pinamonti Kress said. But beyond renewable scholarships, her department has changed its approach to approaching potential students.
Recruiting for this year, she said, her staff had “revised communication strategies and enhanced social media,” getting information to young students through platforms they are familiar with. “We’ve done neat mailings, too,” she said. Like Jayhawk-emblazoned gear. The last round this past winter had a 40 percent commitment rate.
KU hosts a number of on- and off-campus events for potential students, including the annual spring Destination KU for first-time, first-of-their family minority students, which sees 90 percent of its participants commit.
“The hope is always to get students excited to come here,” Pinamonti Kress said.