Enrollment drops despite dorm overflows

Amanda Garrett

It might not seem like it to students living in crowded residence halls, but enrollment at Kent State decreased this year.

The number of students at the Kent and regional campuses decreased by 2 percent this semester, said Charles Rickard, associate vice president for Enrollment Services. Meanwhile, the residence halls are at 103 percent capacity, he said.

There are 23,353 students on the Kent campus this year compared to 23,978 who were enrolled on the first day of the 2004 fall semester .

The seven regional campuses have 11,892 students compared to 12,170 last year.

The enrollment figures are consistent with the numbers the university projected, Rickard said. He attributed the decrease in students to increasing tuition and declining state funding.

“Basically, tuition has almost doubled in the last 10 years,” he said. “At the same time, there has been a decrease in federal aid programs.”

And while the overall number of students is decreasing, the residence halls are currently at more than 100 percent capacity.

The university has enough rooms for 6,332 students, but there are currently 6,575 people living in the residence halls, said T.J. Logan, assistant director of Residence Services. Those numbers do not include the 150 resident assistants.

Currently there are a handful of students in Dunbar, Eastway, Lake and Olson halls living in lounges that have been converted to residences. All the students living in the lounges are paying lower rates because of the inconvenience, Logan said.

One of the reasons for hall overflow may be the increasing number of new and out-of-state students, Rickard said. There are 3,704 incoming freshmen and 922 students who have transferred from other universities. The number of out-of-state students is not currently available.

For now, the Office of Enrollment Services is implementing a strategic enrollment plan for 2005-2008, which focuses on student retention and targets students in specific demographic groups. The plan also aims at recruiting potential students in the 25 to 44 age group, and students in several states, including Illinois and Maryland, that are in close driving distance to Kent State.

“We have developed an enrollment plan that will require our full attention,” Rickard said. “We’re planning on moving forward on that very quickly.”

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