As double-digit tuition increases continue at other schools, enrollment numbers continue to soar at Fort Hays State University.
After setting an all-time record for the 20th day spring enrollment with a student headcount of 5,854, Fort Hays State University has set yet another record with additional enrollments since the 20th day. As of the close of the semester, the official spring 2003 count -- with the supplemental enrollments of another 633 students since the 20th day -- was 6,487.
It was the first time that spring enrollment had ever exceeded 6,000 at FHSU. The previous all-time record for spring enrollment was a final headcount of 5,894 a year ago. So, the final spring 2003 enrollment breaks the previous record by a whopping 593 students, or 10.1 percent! The university also set its all-time enrollment record for any semester with a final count of 6,549 students for the fall 2002 semester.
"We attribute these enrollment records to our affordable tuition and fees and to our tremendous academic success," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president.
While the other Kansas Board of Regents universities raised tuition for the 2002-2003 academic year by at least 9 percent and as much as 25.2 percent, FHSU held its increase for tuition to 6.4 percent. With no increase in fees, the actual out-of-pocket increase for FHSU students was 5.01 percent. The Board of Regents will approve tuition increases for the 2003-2004 academic year at its June meeting, and it appears the affordability gap will widen. FHSU, which already has the lowest tuition, is seeking an increase of 9 percent. By comparison, Emporia State has requested an increase of 13 to 16 percent, Wichita State has requested an increase of 18.8 percent, Pittsburg State has requested an increase of 14 to 15 percent, and the University of Kansas and Kansas State University have requested increases of 20 percent.
The president pointed out that in addition to FHSU's affordability, the claim of academic success can be substantiated by the 98 percent job placement rate for FHSU graduates last year, and by numerous victories in academic competitions, including national championships over the past two years for the Fort Hays State debate, financial planning and technology studies teams.
"We are the most affordable four-year school in Kansas, and we offer the best undergraduate program of study thanks to our cutting edge technology and the personal attention our students receive from faculty," he said.
The Kansas Board of Regents uses the 20th day number as a basis of comparison for its six universities, but the continuing growth of FHSU's Virtual College means that the 20th day headcount number is no longer a very accurate gauge of enrollment trends at the university. Historically, nearly all college students enrolled at the beginning of a semester. That has changed. The FHSU Virtual College offers many "asynchronous" courses, which are geared toward students whose jobs or family responsibilities make attendance in traditional classes difficult. These distance education courses allow students to start at various times throughout the semester. Because of the impact of this "rolling" enrollment in the Virtual College, numbers continue to climb at FHSU throughout a semester.
Joey Linn, FHSU registrar and assistant vice president for student affairs, credited all the people in offices and departments across campus for working hard to make prospective students aware of the wonderful educational opportunities available at the university, and he especially commended the faculty.
"Our faculty not only help with recruiting, but they work with students in and out of the classroom to assure the high quality that makes 'Affordable Success' a reality at Fort Hays State," Linn said.