The UW-Madison Admissions Office will enroll a record 6,100 new freshmen for the fall term of 2001, representing both a trend for large schools to continue growing and the increased popularity of UW, school officials said.
“We were aiming for 5,740 and we’re going to well exceed that. How much we exceed that, I don’t know,” UW Admissions Director Keith White said.
White said while the final numbers of the incoming freshman class will not be known until after classes start, 6,100 have already paid the $100 enrollment fee.
“They were offered admissions, they accepted and they paid their deposit,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they’re going to show up.”
The school had originally planned on retaining last year’s freshman class size, which was 5,740, but no one plans on turning away the excess, which amounts to a 6.3 percent increase.
And despite a May 1 deadline, White said, the school is still accepting deposits.
If the numbers are as high as expected, it will easily surpass the previous record set when 5,980 freshmen kicked off their year at UW in 1989.
Of the applicants, 65 percent applied as Wisconsin residents. Twelve percent of the applicants are from Minnesota and are considered out-of-state despite cheaper tuition because of reciprocity.
White said the expected increase in enrollment at UW is shared among most big universities across the nation.
“Most of the big schools are experiencing a strong year,” he said. “National universities continue to garner a larger share of the pie every year.”
Janet Mendler, a spokeswoman for the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, reported the school had already received over 24,000 applicants for the freshman class as of the beginning of June.
“That is a record,” Mendler said. “We haven’t received that many in the past.”
The University of Michigan will take a different approach to handling the overload of applicants: they will stick to their original enrollment number of 5,300.
“We are holding enrollment pretty steady because of facilities and space,” Mendler said. “Increasing enrollment by a huge amount doesn’t allow as good a first-year experience as we want to provide our students.”
An already strained Madison housing market and limited advising opportunities may be further hindered at UW if the class size continues to rise. But according to top officials at UW, the larger freshman class will not have much of an effect on residence hall housing, individual class sizes and financial aid available for students.
Paul Evans, director of housing at UW, said it is not possible to increase the existing strain on campus housing.
“We don’t have a way to increase our occupancy [right now],” he said. “For those who can’t live on campus we refer them to [various off-campus housing organizations].”
Evans said every year the number of rooms available is maxed out quickly, and this year will be no different; the university will just be turning more students away from its dorms and housing facilities.
Susan Fischer, associate director of the UW Financial Aid Office, said the massive new freshman class will have “no impact” on available financial aid.
Fischer said most the money is provided by the U.S. government or various banking organizations, not the university, which means that though financial aid requests are up a couple hundred this year, the school itself will not be shortchanging anyone.
As far as individual class sizes, there is already a strictly enforced cap on the number of students in specific-style classes, White said.
For example, there is a 19-to-24-pupils per class agreement between the university and teaching assistants, White said. So while maybe a class or two will be added, the size of individual classes will not begin to increase.
No one knows what long-term effects increasing enrollment will have on tuition. As for what long-term effects increasing enrollment will have on tuition.
Administrators are currently facing rising tuition costs and strains for money for certain programs that were not fully financed by Wisconsin governor Scott McCallum’s budget this year. But White said increasing the number of students enrolling at UW was not a means to bring in more money to the school.
“There was no goal to enroll more students to garner tuition dollars,” he said.