The UW-Madison admissions office will enroll a record 6,100 new freshmen this fall, representing both a trend for large schools to continue growing and UW’s increased popularity, school officials said.
UW admissions director Keith 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 admission, they accepted, and they paid their deposit,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they’re going to show up.”
White said the school had originally planned on retaining last year’s freshman-class size of 5,740, but will not turn away the excess, which amounts to a 6.3 percent increase.
If the numbers are as high as expected, it will easily surpass the previous record set when 5,980 freshmen attended 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 than other out-of-staters 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, said the school had already received a record-breaking 24,000 applicants for the freshman class at the beginning of June.
However, they plan to 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.”
According to top officials at UW, the larger freshman class will not have much of an effect on residence-hall housing, individual class sizes or the amount of financial aid available to 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].”
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 of 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 the long-term of rising enrollment will have on tuition.
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.