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Spring Semester Headcount is Second Highest in History; FTE Enrollment sets New Spring Record


JONESBORO – The unofficial, preliminary enrollment at Arkansas State University stands at 13,022, which is the second highest headcount and the highest full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment ever recorded for the spring semester, announced Dr. Dan Howard, interim chancellor.

FTE enrollment is 9,488, the highest spring FTE ever recorded at ASU and an increase of 58 (one percent) over the spring semester of 2011.  This number is most important because FTE is related to tuition and fee revenue ASU needs to provide a quality education and is the number used in the formula that determines the amount of funding for ASU from the State of Arkansas.  Full-time equivalent enrollment is determined by dividing total undergraduate credit-hour enrollment by 15 and total graduate credit-hour enrollment by 12, which are considered to be full-time course loads at the respective levels.  Higher funding provided from the state funding formula enables the university to keep tuition and fee increases to an absolute minimum.

The enrollment “snapshot” is captured from enrollment data at the conclusion of the 11th day of classes, which was Tuesday, Jan. 31. 

International student enrollment hit the highest level ever at the onset of a semester at ASU, with 1,070 students enrolling from 62 countries, Dr. Howard added.  This number includes 220 students who have enrolled in the English as a Second Language program, pushing total university enrollment to 13,242.

“Reaching the second highest spring enrollment in ASU’s history is particularly noteworthy this year because the university saw a record number of graduating students, approximately 4,000, in 2011,” Dr. Howard emphasized.  “With approximately 1,250 diplomas awarded just in December, the high enrollment this semester is an amazing accomplishment.  In addition to outstanding individual and collective efforts across campus, personnel in the Admissions Office, Registrar’s Office, Academic Affairs, Financial Aid, and Graduate School worked exceptionally hard before the semester started to help students resolve issues and get back into classes.”

Historically, there is always some natural attrition from fall to spring semesters, and more recently there has been some residual effect from ASU’s implementation of higher undergraduate admission standards, which are being implemented gradually to raise the academic quality of the institution.  Effective with the freshman class entering in the fall of 2011, a student had to have a high school grade point average of 2.5 or above and ascore of 19 or above on the ACT, or a comparable score on the SAT.  Fall 2011 was the fifth consecutive year in which ASU has raised incrementally the standard for unconditional admission.  Despite the changes, this year’s preliminary spring headcount is only one percent below the record spring semester enrollment, which was set last year.

“Without effective proactive measures by numerous faculty and staff members, I am convinced that we would not have hit such a high enrollment level,” added Dr. Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for student affairs.  “The increased admission standards are yielding a better-prepared student body, which is resulting in a retention rate that is gradually increasing.  In fact, ASU achieved the highest freshman retention rate, 89.1 percent, between the fall and spring semesters in the history of the university.”

Dr. Howard also credited the diligent work by the Office of International Programs for the high international student enrollment, which includes 259 students in graduate programs, 581 in undergraduate programs, and the 220 students in ESL.  Howard went on to state that these international students enhance the educational environment at ASU and help American students prepare better for a globally interconnected and highly competitive marketplace.  Tuition and fees paid by these international students also impact positively the financial “bottom line” of the university and exerts a positive impact on the local economy.

Enrollment in large-scale distance graduate programs in education declined this semester by slightly more than 200 students, but this was not unanticipated because of the university’s success with seeing students through to completion of a degree.  In 2011, approximately 1,300 individuals completed graduate-level degrees in various fields of education through theonline programs.

The undergraduate enrollment of 9,627 is 74 percent of the student body, while students in graduate programs comprise 26 percent of the total.

The enrollment statistics include all instructional sites associated with the Jonesboro campus, including individuals who are enrolled in baccalaureate or graduatedegree programs offered at ASU Degree Centers located in Beebe, Blytheville, Forrest City, Mountain Home, Newport and West Memphis.  Additional students are taking classes at ASU-Paragould and five area high schools where ASU provides college-level coursework.  The faculty and staff in Continuing Education and Community Outreach have been instrumental in encouraging enrollment at these sites.

After further analysis to confirm accuracy of the preliminary numbers, the enrollment “snapshot” at the conclusion of the 11th day will be reported to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

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