Faced with admissions drop, USU turns recruiting focus
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:02
According to Student Services Vice President James Morales, USU expects to lose $15.5 million over the next two years.
This projected revenue loss is the result of the change in eligibility age for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In reaction to this prediction, USU’s admissions team has focused on several recruitment tactics which are currently being put into action.
USU President Stan Albrecht created the Missionary Task Force in response to the age change made in October’s General Conference by Latter-day Saints president Thomas S. Monson.
Led by Morales, the task force encompasses representatives from Student Services, academic departments, deans, Housing and The Campus Store.
The task force will meet every Friday for the next year to discuss how to minimize the impact this change may cause.
“We have developed three primary areas to offset this dip in revenue,” Morales said. “Recruit more out-of-state freshman, more out-of-state transfer students and more international students.”
Despite the projected dip in enrollment, Morales said there was no reason to panic.
“We’re concerned, but we got a really good jump start on it,” Morales said. “We feel confident that we’ve got the right pieces either in place, or we’ll be able to put them in place to get through this. It’ll be a challenge, but we think we will weather this storm well.”
Morales believes the impact will be greater at USU than at other institutions in Utah. He said 86 percent of students attending USU are members of the church, compared to 50 percent of the University of Utah’s students.
According to Morales, USU predicts it will lose approximately 1,900 students over the next two years. This will be $9.5 million lost in tuition plus an additional $6 million in auxiliary revenue such as Dining services, residence halls and parking services.
“Many of those students will come back, so in the end it won’t necessarily be truly lost revenue,” Morales said. “It will just be a revenue dip for a period of time.”
USU’s Director of Admissions Katie Nielsen said the Admissions team is targeting areas in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and especially California to recruit out-of-state freshman as well as out-of-state transfer students.
“We’re doing six trips to California in the next month basically covering from Sacramento to San Diego doing events in the area,” Nielsen said. “We will be doing admissions and scholarships on the spot and looking for students who maybe didn’t know Utah State could be an option.”
Morales said USU is very affordable in terms of tuition and student fees. He said USU costs approximately $5,000 per semester for residents. Schools in other states, such as the University of California, cost as much as $31,000 per semester for residents, according to UC’s website.
Some universities in California have been capping their enrollment as well.
“Based on media reports and other reports we’ve been connected with in California, some students can barely get one class a semester,” Morales said. “This would take them years to get a college degree. We’re telling these students to transfer to Utah State where they can get their degree done a lot cheaper and quicker than if they stayed in California.”
USU plans to offer additional scholarships to both out-of-state freshmen and out-of-state transfer students.
“However, not all of them, because we need the revenue to help us make up the difference in terms of what we’re losing,” Morales said.
USU is also focusing on recruiting international students. Mary Hubbard, vice provost for International Education, said the International Admissions team is trying some new approaches to international recruitment such as attending recruitment fairs in countries that have increased interest in sending students to the U.S.
“We are participating in several ‘virtual fairs’ where students from around the world connect with our recruitment and admissions team online,” Hubbard said. “We are also using more online approaches and social media.”
According to Hubbard, the International Admissions team recently revised its website to be more attractive and user-friendly. It also hired an additional admissions staff member to help process a growing number of applications.
The task force also asked the legislature to expand the Legacy Tuition Waiver for non-resident students. According to Morales, under this program, non-resident students whose parents are alumni of USU are able to enroll at the cost of in-state tuition. The task force asked the legislature to expand this waiver to students whose grandparents, not just parents, are alumni.
The admissions team at USU is largely focusing on recruitment outside the state of Utah. However, according to Nielsen, the university has not forgotten about students currently attending USU.
“We’re trying to help students who are already here as well,” Nielsen said. “We’re encouraging students to do a deferment or a leave of absence. We’re trying to get the word out to students that we want to make sure their admissions and scholarships are ready to go for them when they’re ready to come back.”