Ithaca College is expecting to make operational changes in the upcoming years based on the college’s dropping enrollment and retention. While this has promising long-term effects, this can leave current students at a disadvantage until that point.
At the State of the College meeting Oct. 18, Tim Downs, vice president for Finance and Administration and chief financial officer, said the college is lowering the target admission number of first year students from about 1,650 to 1,400 in the coming years. Additionally, the college’s endowment dropped from $425.2 million to $358.3 million between 2021 and 2022. Endowments are not typically used in the college’s funding but are more so used for funding scholarships and grants.
Student enrollment in Fall 2022 has dropped by 22% since 2018, according to the Office of Analytics and Institutional Research. At the same time, yield rates have increased by 3% since the fall of last year. This is likely because of the college’s commitment to prospective student outreach, dedicating enrollment incentives and providing further insight and resources to financial aid planning.
One of the incentives includes a $500 start-up grant, given to students who were admitted to the college, visited the campus and enrolled. However, some students feel as though the grant is inequitable, as it is only given to new students.
The college’s retention rate has also been decreasing since Spring 2018, going from 87% to 83% in Spring 2021. Laurie Koehler, vice president for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy, said the college maintains student relations by conducting surveys and reaching out to students who request transcripts and those who have taken leaves of absence, although there are no current initiatives or programs targeting this issue.
With the emphasis placed on prospective student enrollment and engagement, current students can’t help feeling like their own financial and academic concerns are ignored for the sake of the institution’s.
Smaller class sizes may be beneficial to the college, as the institution will be able to sustain and recover financially from losses intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, it seems that the faculty and student body are the ones left to grapple with the consequences.