Chancellor James B. Milliken

Chancellor James B. Milliken

Appointed to start on June 1, 2014, James B. Milliken serves as Chancellor of The City University of New York. »

Historic Highs, Driven by Value

September 25, 2009 | News from the Chancellor

Driven by value-seeking students, including surging numbers of high academic achievers and community college applicants, enrollment at The City University of New York has reached its all-time high this fall.

The number of students enrolled in credit-bearing courses, 259,000, jumped from 243,000 in fall 2008 and broke the 253,000 record set in 1974, when there was no tuition charged for attending CUNY. University data shows a total increase of 6 percent in headcount for the 2009-10 academic year.

“The University’s strong enrollment gains make a powerful statement,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “Students and families connect with CUNY’s consistent focus on academic quality, on providing value, and on the changing needs of our students, present and future.”

The number of CUNY applicants with strong academic preparation continues its upward trajectory, underscoring the University’s growing reputation as a high-quality higher education option for value-conscious families.

Undergraduate enrollment increased this fall by 5.9 percent compared with last year. At the University’s senior colleges enrollment rose by 4.8 percent. CUNY college applications from students with averages of greater than 85 percent increased by close to 2,000, compared with last year.

“Preliminary indications are that at most of our senior colleges we will see significant increases in mean SAT scores and high school grades in comparison to the students who entered in fall 2008,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Alexandra W. Logue.

“The data also indicate that students are, on average, taking more credits, which is an excellent predictor of increased student success.”

High-achieving students are increasingly drawn to CUNY on the graduate level as well. CUNY graduate programs saw a 6.9 percent enrollment increase this fall. At CUNY School of Law, first-year fall enrollment jumped by 23 percent over last year. The LSAT scores and GPAs of this law school class are the highest in the school’s 25-year history.

The largest enrollment increase was seen at CUNY’s community colleges. This year, the University saw an increase of nearly 60 percent in the number of applicants who chose a community college as their first-choice school.

The fall 2009 gains reflect new and important trends at CUNY.

Students living outside of New York City, either in the surrounding suburbs or out-of-state, are applying in increasing numbers. Suburban student applications have jumped by almost 20% and those from non-New York State residents by more than 12%. Nearly 5,000 out-of-state, U.S. students have been admitted for the fall.

The University is also seeing an increase in applications from new freshmen: As of the end of July, close to 64,000 freshmen had been admitted to CUNY schools, an increase of almost 9,000 over roughly the same period last year.

The stepped-up demand for a CUNY education, spurred by the University’s spreading reputation for quality academics as well as families’ tight budgets, has also prompted the University to make its high-value programs more accessible to a wider range of students.

To make it easier for students to fulfill their degree requirements on time, CUNY has expanded and promoted its summer and winter sessions. And students are responding: Enrollment this summer was 73,202, reflecting a 3 percent increase since 2008 and an 8.7 percent increase since summer 2005, when 67,318 were enrolled and the University boosted promotion of its summer offerings. According to a survey of 2,500 of the 2009 summer enrollees, 93 percent were full- or part-time CUNY students looking to move ahead with their coursework.

The availability of more on-campus housing is also a big draw for CUNY’s new students. The new Queens College student residence, the Summit, opened for the fall semester with nearly all of its 489 available beds filled.

Chancellor Goldstein noted that enrollment increases reflect not just the current economic challenges throughout the United States, but also the renewed confidence in CUNY, which has been succeeding in its mission to bring wide-spread access to high-quality education. CUNY now serving the largest number of people since its official establishment as a university system of public colleges approximately 50 years ago, a milestone in its history of 162 years that began with the founding of the Free Academy, the predecessor of The City College of New York.