Texas A&M University is expecting the largest freshman class in school history this fall, with optimism holding for record numbers of African-American, Hispanic and first-generation students —and no indication that the down economy is adversely affecting enrollment. University officials attribute the anticipated enrollment success in part to Texas A&M’s growing reputation as a “best value” institution nationally.
Texas A&M’s overall freshman class is expected to approach 8,200, which would be an all-time high for the state’s oldest public university and may become the largest single-campus freshman class in the nation. The freshman class last fall totaled 8,093, including 580 enrolled through a cooperative program with Blinn College (certified 12 th class day data).
Freshman gains this year will likely push overall enrollment to an all-time high. Texas A&M had a record 48,039 students last fall.
“Our recent and projected enrollment gains certainly underscore the fact that we are succeeding at educating young people from all backgrounds, helping us be more reflective of the population of Texas,” notes Texas A&M President Elsa A. Murano. “We are going to great lengths to ensure that Texas A&M remains affordable, while balancing costs with a high-quality education. Several third-party studies have confirmed that Texas A&M a ‘best value’ for our students. It all adds up to that cherished Aggie ring being more valuable than ever.”
Murano points out, for example, that Texas A&M is ranked No. 1 nationally by “Smart Money” magazine for “payback ratio”—the earnings levels of an institution’s graduates compared to what they paid in tuition, fees and related costs for their undergraduate educations.
“Such ‘value’ rankings unquestionably contribute to our success in recent years—and certainly this year when many family budgets are particularly tight—to attracting a high-achieving and diverse freshman class and an overall exceptionally fine student body,” she observes. “We are obviously pleased with our track record to date, but there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before the Class of 2013 steps foot on our campus this fall.”
Assistant Provost for Enrollment Alice Reinarz reports Texas A&M received a record number of applications – over 26,000 – for its Class of 2013, with African-Americans and Hispanics accounting for 28 percent of the total. She said that prompts her to project that more than 300 African-American and more than1,400 Hispanic students will be in that freshman class.
Reinarz says she anticipates Texas A&M will again rank among the public university leaders nationally in “yield”—the percentage of students who are granted admission and then actually enroll. “That’s significant,” she explains, “because many high-achieving students, such as those who apply to Texas A&M, submit applications to multiple institutions and have the capability to choose where they will enroll in the final analysis.”
In addition to aggressively recruiting a highly qualified and diverse freshman class, Texas A&M has continued to enhance its ability to provide financial support to students in need as well as to reward academic success with scholarships, notes Assistant Provost for Scholarships & Financial Aid Joseph Pettibon. He says, for example, the university is in the midst of an initiative that covers tuition for academically eligible young Texans whose families have annual incomes of $60,000 or less. This new program, known as “Aggie Assurance,” builds on a previously established “Regents Scholarship” program under former Texas A&M President Robert Gates for first-generation college students who come from families with annual incomes of $40,000 or less.
The university currently awards more than $400 million annually in financial aid of all types, including student employment, Pettibon adds.
Also, the university and the Texas A&M Foundation, which has the mission of providing major financial assistance from the private sector, including alumni and corporations, last year launched a multi-year campaign titled “Operation Spirit and Mind” with the goal of raising $300 million for at least 2,000 new endowed scholarships and graduate fellowships.
Texas A&M has consistently been rated as a “best value” in such publications as “U.S. News & World Report” and “Kiplinger’s Personal Finance,” among others, university officials note.