A big jump in applications for college enrollment have boosted negotiations to build a university campus in Payson as the state’s three universities report record enrollments and bulging campuses, despite soaring tuition and stubbornly high unemployment.
In the long run, the boom in university enrollment ought to be good news for prospects for a university campus in Payson.
Rim Country Education Foundation SLE and negotiators continued to meet this week in hopes of achieving a breakthrough in negotiations that have inched along for the past four years.
As it happens, ASU last week announced the first classes at Lake Havasu City, a branch campus squeezed into a refurbished school site with about $2 million in local donations, along with record enrollments at its campuses in the Valley. The local group promoting a university here in Payson continues to support efforts in Lake Havasu as another step toward a state college system envisioned by President Michael Crow’s “Colleges of ASU” concept.
Despite the lingering economic downturn and rapidly rising tuition rates, enrollment at Arizona’s three public universities continues to expand rapidly.
A month into the new academic school year, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona have each marked new records and trends in their enrollment, including records in freshman enrollment, student housing and more.
This year’s milestones include:
• Northern Arizona University estimates the incoming freshman class at 4,100 — its largest ever. Its dorms are filled to capacity, including two new on-campus properties, and the university is maintaining waiting lists.
• This academic year, the UA welcomed about 7,400 freshmen — up more than 150 from last year. Just two years ago, the entering freshman class was about 7,000. Approximately 27,000 people applied for freshman admission for the 2012-13 school year.
• Nearly 10,000 students enrolled at ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus this fall compared with 9,367 students last fall. The campus has grown each year since opening with 3,059 students in 2006.
• Overall, ASU has 73,373 students at its four campuses in the Valley, including more than 9,300 freshmen and more than 7,150 transfer students. The ASU Honors College also hit record enrollment with more than 1,000 students.
• ASU also now has 14,000 graduate students and its contingent of international students also hit an all-time high.
• ASU this semester also launched a partnership with Eastern Arizona College in Safford, so that students can take ASU classes on that community college campus. ASU officials have said they haven’t yet concluded agreements with Gila Community College that would let students here participate in the program.
• ASU’s enrollment increased by 1,119 students this semester and has risen 5,300 since the fall of 2009.
• In all, 51,000 students applied for admission this semester — an all-time record. ASU admitted a total of 16,450.
• The academic preparation of the 2012 full-time freshmen also hit a new high water mark, with a mean high school grade point average of 3.47, ACT composite of 24.5 and SAT composite (for math and critical reading) of 1,129.
• ASU also has 5,160 students from 120 other countries, a 34 percent increase in the past two years.
• Out-of-state students accounted for 37 percent of the freshman class, up 2 percent from last year. Out-of-state students typically pay two or three times as much tuition.
ASU officials attributed the high number of transfers in part to the partnerships the university has with the community college systems throughout Arizona, and increases from students from other states and countries.
ASU officials pointed to the enrollment partnership with Eastern Arizona College (EAC) where 25 transfer and returning ASU degree-seeking students are completing degrees in nursing and organizational studies on the EAC Thatcher campus this fall semester.
The university also touted its new ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City, which this fall enrolled 70 students.
“After more than a decade of planning on the part of the Havasu Foundation for Higher Education and the Lake Havasu community, it is exciting to see our site open and the arrival of students, faculty and staff bring it to life,” said David Young, director of the ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City. “It is such an important achievement for Lake Havasu City leaders, the community and the university, all of which worked tirelessly to make this a reality for the betterment of the city and the state of Arizona.