Fresno State enrollment freeze will hurt qualified students, official says

The Fresno BeeMarch 20, 2012 

A high-ranking Fresno State official said Tuesday he was "disappointed" the university would have to close its doors to qualified students by freezing enrollment for spring 2013.

California State University officials announced the spring freeze Monday as part of a plan to reduce enrollment by as many as 25,000 students as the system grapples with budget cuts.

Fresno State is one of 15 campuses that will freeze admissions next spring; eight campuses will accept a few hundred community college students with an associate degree for transfer.

Competition for admission is getting steep, Vice President for Student Affairs Paul Oliaro said Tuesday. Prospective students who hoped to enroll in spring 2013 will have to wait until fall 2013, guaranteeing a larger number of applicants.

The university must also cut its enrollment by 2% to 3% over the next year, Oliaro said, which means fewer seats for new students.

With 20,270 students, Fresno State has exceeded its enrollment target by about 4%. Oliaro said the university had more continuing students this spring than anticipated, and more students loaded up their class schedule and enrolled full time than in previous spring semesters.

Students won't be able to carry heavy class loads for much longer. Starting in 2013-14, students will be limited to 15 to 17 credits each term to ensure students have equal access to courses. Exceptions will be allowed for graduating seniors.

Oliaro said he wasn't sure how the admissions freeze would impact faculty teaching freshman-level courses next spring. But he added that the cuts have "wave after wave of after-effects" on campus.

CSU officials said additional cuts this year could trigger 2,500 to 3,000 layoffs.

In addition, every CSU will wait-list all applicants for the 2013-14 school year until after voters decide on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax plan in the November general election. If the plan fails, the CSU faces a $200 million mid-year cut. Fresno State's share would be $11 million.

Applicants for the 2013-14 school year will get acceptance letters in January or February. Oliaro said Fresno State normally starts admitting students in December.

Fresno State President John Welty was in Long Beach attending the CSU Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday. He will address the budget during a faculty-staff meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Satellite Student Union.

In Long Beach, CSU trustees criticized the plan to freeze spring admissions next year.

Trustees requested that Chancellor Charles Reed explore additional ways to increase revenue and reduce costs to cope with a $750 million cut for the next academic year.

Trustee Roberta Achtenberg says reducing enrollment by 20,000 to 25,000 students betrays students who receive the message that they should go to college. She says many will simply never go to college if denied access to the CSU system.

Reed says since the system will not bear another tuition increase, the only large-scale alternative is to reduce admissions.

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