Now for some good news: Fresno State to see a hike in next year’s enrollment

Yvette Ruiz of Hanford earned her master’s degree in student affairs and college counseling.
Yvette Ruiz of Hanford earned her master’s degree in student affairs and college counseling. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Thanks to last-minute negotiating by Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators, Fresno State will be able to enroll more students in the coming year than first expected.

The number is not huge — about 600 more students — but the trend line is heading up, which is what the campus desperately needs.

As outlined in a Bee editorial in late May, as the new state budget was still being finalized, Fresno State was functioning as an impacted campus. That means it gets more applications than it can accept. Fresno State is one of six fully impacted schools in the 23-campus CSU.

To ease that burden, President Joseph Castro needs to hire more faculty so more classes can be offered. That takes money.

With the state leaders’ action, Fresno State will see an enrollment hike of 2.75 percent — higher than the 2 percent Newsom originally offered but lower than the 5 percent Castro was hoping for. He plans to ask for a 5 percent increase when the next budget is being proposed. For now, it will remain an impacted university.

Fresno State plays a key role in the vitality of the central San Joaquin Valley. Ninety percent of its students come from the region. Many of them live at home to save expenses, or have jobs and family obligations that keep them from moving away to attend college somewhere else.

Seventy percent of Fresno State students are the first in their families to go to college. Eighty percent remain in the Valley after graduation.

That last point is one Castro frequently makes as he talks about the need for more enrollment funding. Graduating more students with bachelor’s degrees — and the skills they take with them into the working world — will sharpen the local workforce and improve area firms in the process. That, in turn, will lift the economy of the Valley.

Growing enrollment also means fewer students get turned away. For this coming year, even with the latest increase, Fresno State will still have to deny entry to about 8,000 students. Nearly half of them are from the core region of Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties.

State leaders are frequently criticized, so it is only right to thank them for positive action. Fresno State, and the Valley, will be the better for it.