While students take the summer off, Iowa’s three universities are working to predict how many will enroll for the coming fall term. At the University of Iowa, Admissions director Mike Barron says it’s not so much guesswork as knowing the trends.He says they don’t know “absolutely, for sure” how many students will enroll, but says they take into account a phenomenon called “summer melt,” in which some who intend to sign up for fall term don’t show up — meaning they can’t make a precise forecast of the numbers. For fall 2004 Barron says the University anticipates no big change in the fulltime student enrollment. The public goal’s to enroll an entering class of 4-thousand students, and he thinks they’ll be right around that. In addition to that 4000 fulltime, the University has more than 20-thousand parttime and other students. Asked whether recent tuition hikes will hurt student numbers, Barron acknowledges there are factors that clearly influence a student’s decision to attend one school or another. He says students say academic quality and affordability “take a one-two spot,” but affordability’s not always “the sticker price,” but perhaps how much is left for the student to pay after financial aid and scholarships. While the economy and other factors can cause variations over time, Barron says there has been no big change in U-of-I enrollment the past five years. Total applications for first-year students continue to rise, totaling 13-thousand, 800 for this year alone, and he says it’s both Iowa and out-of-state students whose numbers hint at an increase. Barron says interest remains strong among high-school graduates.
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