Driven by leaps in freshman and transfer admissions, enrollment at The City University of New York increased to more than 270,000 this fall as more students and families seized the opportunity to attain a high-quality yet affordable college education amid daunting college costs and enrollment declines elsewhere.
More admitted freshmen chose CUNY this year compared with last fall, University figures show. Out of 68,540 admitted freshmen, 36,618 enrolled — a 53.4 percent “yield rate” as opposed to last year’s 51.6 percent — a 1.8 percentage point difference, which is significant because the number of freshman applications remained unchanged.
Overall, University enrollment rose to 270,065 students, reflecting an increase of nearly half a percentage point over last year’s 269,114, as well as persistently strong demand, according to the preliminary CUNY figures. Undergraduate enrollment was up by 1.1 percent, to 240,269 from 237,737 last year, and includes a .5 percent increase at the senior colleges and 2 percent at the community colleges. Combined with enrollment in CUNY’s continuing education courses, 247,698 in 2012-13, the University is serving more than 517,000 students, well over half a million.
The undergraduate enrollment increases come at a time when the University is spotlighting the high value of CUNY’s academic programs, which today attract more high-achieving students and accomplished full-time professors; produce more student award winners, and make it possible for many students to attend college either tuition free or with little or no debt from federal education loans.
Six in 10 full-time undergraduates attend tuition free because federal Pell grants and New York State TAP awards can fully cover CUNY’s affordable tuition rates. CUNY is providing the means to valuable, job-ready, less stress-inducing degrees against a nationwide economic landscape clouded by several years of depressed family finances and uncertain job prospects, overshadowed by a $1.1 trillion mountain of education debt and increasingly littered with college-loan defaults and education-borrower regrets.
As CUNY’s enrollments remain strong, many colleges and universities around the country have seen theirs drop. Half of all colleges and universities — mostly small institutions with lower selectivity, lower profile and higher dependence on tuition — reported lower enrollment for Fall 2012 than for the previous year, according to a survey earlier this year by Moody’s Investors Service. Eighteen percent of private universities and 15 percent of public universities projected net tuition revenue declines for the 2013 fiscal year, and one-third of private and public universities projected their net tuition revenue would grow by less than 2 percent or decline.
At CUNY, freshman admissions rose 2.8 percent this fall at the senior and community colleges. Transfer students are surging into CUNY colleges: transfer admissions are expected to increase by 5 to 6 percent from last fall, according to University data. There are increases in the numbers of transfer applications within CUNY and from outside of CUNY. Applications from students seeking to transfer from one CUNY school to another were up by 12.2 percent; 51.5 percent of transfer applications came from CUNY students. Students applying to transfer into CUNY schools from non-CUNY institutions comprised 49.5 percent of the applications, and those applications were also up, by 6.5 percent.