Freshman enrollment down this year

Ashlee Clark

Incoming freshmen with bright red Western lanyards around their necks have been touring Western’s campus for the past week, learning about college life in Bowling Green.

But fewer freshmen will trudge up the Hill this semester.

It is anticipated that freshman enrollment will be reduced by about 100 students this year, registrar Freida Eggleton said. Preliminary enrollment numbers will be available within the next few weeks.

The number of Tennessee students at Western is expected to decrease by as much as 300 students.

But tuition incentives are expected to bring more students onto the Hill in the future.

The enrollment decrease at Western is being blamed on students staying or returning to Tennessee to receive scholarships from the state’s lottery.

President Gary Ransdell said Western’s overall enrollment will remain steady despite the drop in Tennessee students because of “greater retention, greater online enrollments and more aggressive recruitment.”

A decrease in the number of graduating high school seniors in Kentucky has also affected Western enrollment.

There was a 10 percent decrease in the size of graduating high school classes in Kentucky, Burch said.

“Kentucky is one of the few states that has not had a large growing population,” she said.

Luther Hughes, associate vice president for enrollment management, said the number of Kentucky high school graduates is expected to remain the same for the next five years.

There is still a sizable number of Kentucky high school students attending Western, despite the small graduating classes.

“We’re kind of getting a bigger slice of the pie than we got last year,” Hughes said.

But the number of students coming from Tennessee may not be as plentiful as in the past because of the lottery scholarships.

“We will not have the volume of Tennessee students we are accustomed to,” Burch said.

Tennessee’s lottery began on Jan. 20.

High school seniors in Tennessee who have a 3.0 grade point average or score a 21 on the ACT can receive up to $3,000 in scholarships per academic year at colleges or universities in the state, according to the Tennessee Lottery Web site.

More than 300 of last year’s Tennessee freshmen were also eligible for the scholarships.

Western offered 100 one-year $1,000 scholarships to Tennessee students eligible for the state scholarships, Hughes said. Out of the 370 students eligible for the scholarship, 174 students responded.

“The interesting thing is a lot of those Tennessee students stayed,” Burch said.

Hughes said he believes the nearly 200 students that didn’t respond weren’t interested in staying at Western.

“Since they didn’t say they were interested, then I’m assuming they transferred,” he said.

The official number of students who returned to Tennessee won’t be available until next Monday, Hughes said.

There are usually about 500 incoming freshmen from Tennessee, Hughes said. About 1,500 Tennessee students attend Western.

He said the number could decrease by as much as 300 in the future because of students choosing to stay in Tennessee instead of attending Western.

But Western is continuing its efforts to bring in more students nationally and internationally.

Last semester, 13 counties were added to the Tuition Incentive Program which included Tampa, Chicago and Atlanta. Students from those counties pay 125 percent of Western’s rate for full-time, in-state students.

Those rates are also being offered to any out-of-state student with a 24 ACT score and a 3.4 grade point average.

Ransdell said the results of the tuition incentives will not be noticed until next year.

“In the future, we anticipate the 24 ACT, 3.4 GPA TIP policy to more than offset the Tennessee variable, both from a quality and a quantity standpoint,” he said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected]