Graduate degree programs decrease

Amanda Garrett

Enrollment at Kent State decreased this year, while college enrollment continues to rise nationwide.

At the Kent campus this semester, enrollment dropped by nearly 3 percent to 23,622 students, said Charles Rickard, associate vice president of Enrollment Services.

Rickard attributed some of the drop-off to part-time students. He said it is more difficult for students who do not take 12 or more credit hours to obtain financial aid.

The university correctly predicted the decrease of students in all areas except one, Rickard said. Enrollment Services did not anticipate such a large decline in graduate students.

The biggest decrease in graduate programs was in the master’s program, which declined by 8.11 percent, according to the university’s statistics. Overall graduate students declined by 7.75 percent.

Rickard said Enrollment Services will be exploring the reasons for the enrollment decline for the next several weeks.

“We’re doing a complete enrollment analysis,” he said. “We’re going to look at our weak spots and analyze why we had growth in some areas.”

One area of growth was the increase in out-of-state students, Rickard said. There were 452 new out-of-state students this year, compared to 426 in 2004.

Rickard said out-of-state growth is caused by the University Award Program, which grants scholarships to students from 17 states that are in close driving distance to Kent State. Students who are enrolled full-time and have a 2.25 cumulative GPA receive a $14,000 scholarship.

Even though enrollment is declining, financial aid distribution continues to rise.

The financial aid office has received almost 35,000 federal financial aid forms, which is 600 more applications than they received last year, said Financial Aid Director Mark Evans.

The average award for each student has also increased, he said. Each student receives about $10,600 in financial aid, which is a $600 jump from last year.

Rickard attributed the decrease in students to increasing tuition and declining state funds.

Kent State’s enrollment troubles come at a time of increasing college enrollment nationwide.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, total college enrollment is expected to rise by 15 to 20 percent from 2002 to 2014.

Kent State plans to tap into the increasing enrollment figures by implementing a strategic enrollment plan for 2005-2008.

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].