As the cost of tuition continues to rise at most state universities, many Big Ten schools have seen an increase in enrollment.
The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor reports that while undergraduate enrollment dropped between the 2001 and 2002 fall school years, enrollment has risen again in 2003 from 24,472 students to 24,517 students. The University of Michigan has 24, 472 undergraduate students for the fall of 2004, according to its website.
The Penn State website shows similar results, with enrollment rising from 34, 829 students in fall 2002 to 35,002 in fall 2003.
Northwestern University, a private college, costs $29,940 for the 2004-2005 school year and has also seen a rising enrollment. In fall 2002, Northwestern students numbered 12,959. In fall 2003 they stood at 12,983. The enrollment of freshman, however, fell from 1,924 students to 1,884 between 2002 and 2003.
One school showing a drop in enrollment was the University of Wisconsin. Between 2002 and 2003, total undergraduate attendance fell from 28,788 to 28,677. Early fall statistics show that the enrollment for fall 2004 is roughly 28,217.
Phil Hull of institutional reporting at the UW Registrar’s office said the change, as a percent, is “really small.”
“During certain decades you could see some definite trends,” he added.
Hull said one outstanding trend was evident during World Wars I and II.
The fall school seasons between the end of the war in 1945 and the start of the new school year in fall 1946 witnessed a jump in undergraduate enrollment from 7,643 students to 15,475 students. That comes out to a 102.5 percent increase, versus a 2 percent decrease for UW’s current enrollment between 2002 and 2004.
Hull says that student enrollment growth has leveled off to around 30,000 students. This has been true since the late ’70s, he noted.
First semester in-state tuition for a UW student taking between 12 and 18 credits has risen from about $2,569 to $2,933 between fall 2003 and 2004.
Some UW students, like sophomore Sarah Wiegretz, frown upon the increasing financial pressures.
“I don’t like [the rising tuition costs] because I could be doing other things I want to do with my money,” said Wiegretz, who pays for her own tuition. “They’re putting pressure on young students who don’t have that kind of money.”
Other students blame the Wisconsin government for rising tuition.
UW sophomore Marcus Laman feels the state should budget its money better.
“I think the state should give us some sort of break,” he said. “I mean it’s a serious price jack the state has done the past couple of years.”
But UW freshman Mitchell Pond recognizes the necessity of tuition hikes.
“I think that it’s important for the school to have the funds it needs to have a well-rounded school,” he said. “Colleges have to understand that money should be spent very wisely.”