Enrollment is steady as Simpson plans for new year

Enrollment is steady as Simpson plans for new year

It is no surprise that the slowing economy is a worry for many students, but now may be the best time to invest in higher education.

According to Admissions Counselor Beth Peck, many more people may actually be enrolling in school because they are having trouble finding other jobs. Therefore, enrollment in colleges may not actually suffer as some had anticipated.

“Enrollment does naturally fluctuate, but our numbers are just as strong as ever so far,” Peck said.

Sophomore Jeni Hegstrom sees the benefits of getting a college education.

“I’d agree that now is a good time to be in school,” Hegstrom said. “With the economy the way it is and the difficulty with finding a job, it’s a good time to further my education.”

Iowa’s regent universities, Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa are experiencing a 4.2 percent tuition increase next year. Private colleges such as Simpson are only going to experience a 3.9 percent increase, which may influence enrollment at Simpson.

“We are having a good year in terms of new student recruitment,” Deb Tierney, vice president of enrollment, said. “When compared to previous years, applications, campus visits and overall interest compare very favorably. We hosted more students than ever at our Winter Visit Day in February, and I am anticipating another large group will be here for our annual Junior Visit Day in April.”

Peck also said they are experiencing the normal trends of registration as they have had in the past, but families recently have expressed more concern over financial issues.

“Financial aid is always a concern and financial aid at Simpson works with each individual,” said Peck.

Simpson also offers many scholarship opportunities. Now more so than ever, the scholarships that are being offered are much more aggressive.

The Earth Corps. Grant, the Wesley Scholarships that have been extended to freshmen, and the additional community service scholarships that Simpson is now offering are a few examples.

“The recent announcement of increases in both the federal Pell Grant and tuition tax credits for families with college students is timely,” Tierney said. “In addition, Simpson has been proactive in offering new grant programs and expanding the Wesley Service Scholars program.”

Tierney also said that Simpson is well positioned to face the turbulent economy.

The college’s enrollment affects the budget, and the goal is to shoot for 1,500 students. If enrollment would happen to be low – which isn’t the case right now – the college would compensate with the low budget.

Recruiting students is a competitive business, and it is difficult to tell what other private colleges are doing.

“It’s a little early to see what other colleges are doing,” Peck said. “It’s pretty tight-lipped.”

Everyone is concerned with the economy and is trying to plan ahead, but Simpson is still pushing for its enrollment goals.

“Ideally we want 370-400 incoming freshmen and 65-80 new transfers,” Peck said.

With the lower tuition increase for next year, Simpson still hopes to bring students to Indianola.

“The admissions staff remains optimistic regarding new student enrollment for the coming fall,” Tierney said.