by Onize Ohikere
MSUM’s recently released enrollment figures confirm the numbers declined in comparison to last school year.
Undergraduate enrollment reduced by 18 percent and transfer student enrollment by 6 percent. The cumulative enrollment averaged at a 7 percent decrease.
“They are far worse than the university had been projecting,” said Student Senate President Sean Duckworth.
Duckworth explained that during budget consultations with students last semester, the university initially projected a 2 percent decline. They later increased the projection to 5 percent, still below the actual figures.
Since enrollment is a major revenue source for the university, a decline raises concerns on MSUM’s financial standing. Duckworth said MSUM officials announced at a university planning and budget committee meeting that the reduced enrollment adds another $2 million to the school’s deficit.
The decline, however, is not expected to impact student organizations and services on campus. Duckworth said MSUM increased student fees by 3.4 percent, which helps support those services.
According to Jean Hollaar, vice president of finance and administration, MSUM already has a system in place that protects student services. Hollaar explained student organizations receive their funds from the student activity budget committee, which always has a student fee reserve.
“Our practice is even if revenue generated by fees don’t meet, we guarantee the budget,” Hollaar said. “It’s a way to not be making those major adjustments in a way that’ll be disruptive to the student body.”
Though the budget is set for the current fiscal year, MSUM officials are deliberating on budget solutions for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“We definitely need to have specific solutions,” Hollaar said, “but we have until July 1 to do that, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”
Hollaar said students wouldn’t notice any major changes next year, except a reduction of students on campus.
However, Duckworth believes MSUM can work on a few things to help raise its enrollment numbers.
“We’re not capturing the local students, but we’re starting to change that,” Duckworth said.
He explained MSUM recruiting materials are now present in local banks and other businesses.
“If you’re not present in the community, you’re not going to reach the students,” Duckworth said.
He also mentioned only 30 percent of students from two-year schools in MNSCU remain in the system. Duckworth said this factor, coupled with the fact that “we don’t have a good relationship with MState,” hurts our transfer enrollment rates.