Undergrad enrollment decreases

Biola’s enrollment has decreased for the first time in six years.

Infographic+by+Emily+Hayashida%2FTHE+CHIMES

Infographic by Emily Hayashida/THE CHIMES

Melissa Hedrick, Writer

Full-time undergraduate enrollment has decreased with less new and continuing students in 2015 compared to previous years.

Decreased Enrollment

“There are fewer students overall and part of that is that we have a smaller incoming class. We had budgeted for 1,350 new students and we ended up with 1,197,” said André Stephens, director of undergraduate admissions. All numbers from 2015 enrollment remain preliminary as they are still under review by Biola’s Institutional Research to ensure accuracy.

 

Enrollment decreased 153 students from 4,370 in 2014 to 4,217 in 2015. This makes 209 students under the 2015 enrollment budget.

“This is super unusual for Biola,” Stephens said. “In this decade, the 2000s, we were one of the fastest growing private universities in the country and so in terms of us meeting our budgets and stuff like that we didn’t have a problem.”

A Trimmed Budget

The approximately $190 million dollar budget for the university had to be cut by $5 million due to the lowered number of students. One area the university trimmed as a whole was money budgeted for employee health insurance. From there, the remaining cuts came from vice presidents who cut department budget from 3 to 3.25 percent.

“There are some things that were cut that were corporate cuts,” Stephens said. “What was budgeted was more than we needed when accounting and HR dug into it, so there were some savings from that across the board.”

The Student Government Association also underwent a change in their budget since the estimate of full-time enrolled students was 16 more than the actual levels. This caused money to be redistributed within the budget and $600 to be moved from the contingency fund into the main budget.

Graham Gantzer, senior business accounting major and vice president of finance, technology and HR for SGA, assures this change will not have an affect on the students.

“I know that there wasn’t a change last year,” said Gantzer. “The only thing that it has already affected [this year] is we had to take from contingency.”

Aim to Increase

Biola’s enrollment has generally followed California graduation rates, but as those are predicted to decrease within the next five years, Biola aims to increase the total number of undergraduate students enrolled.

“Our hope and our goal is that we want to beat this trend. We want to be able to hit 5,000 undergrads — that’s our eventual goal in the next seven to eight years,” Stephens said.

Some major causes of the decline include increased competition from other universities such as Grand Canyon University and California Baptist University, especially as these colleges are less expensive than Biola and GCU is a for-profit university.

“There may be a shift in expectations or what they want, maybe people look at Biola and think that’s too much — even Christians. But that’s just a hunch,” Stephens said.

Quality Over Quantity

Despite the reasons for the decrease in enrollment for the 2015 – 2016 school year, Stephens is impressed with the quality of the incoming students and foresees improvement occurring in the following years.

“We’re working hopefully on turning around with a lot of different people here on campus and we’re just trying to put strategies in place to be able to make a difference for next year,” Stephens said.

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