By John Stran
Youngstown State University’s student enrollment for spring 2019 has increased since spring 2018 with a total of 11,900 students and has been steadily growing for the last seven semesters.
Becky Geltz, senior institutional research reporter at YSU, said the university counts any student taking 15 credit hours or more as a full-time equivalent student, and that it may take several part-time students to equal one full-time student when counting semester credit hours.
Gary Swegan, associate vice president for enrollment planning and management, said the recent increase of full-time equivalent students proves YSU is attracting more and better students.
“Before, we had four different students taking one class each for three credit hours, which adds up to 12 hours and now we have one student taking 15 credits,” he said.
YSU receives subsidies from the state based on full-time equivalent numbers and whether or not students are passing their classes. Subsidies from the state used to be given to YSU based on headcount. This process of how YSU receives funding was put into effect when the college began selective admissions in fall 2014.
Due to this, students with high GPAs and state test scores are more profitable to YSU, but students who are more likely to graduate college are more expensive to attract.
“As we’ve had more and more students who do better in high school take us up on our offer, it has cost us more scholarship dollars,” Swegan said. “Our percentage we’re spending on scholarships has gone up; right now were okay, but we don’t want it to go up anymore.”
“You have to serve a wide array of students otherwise you’ll go broke,” he added.
Where Students Are From
A list of the top 20 local feeder high schools from fall 2014-2018 shows local high schools with larger student bodies such as Austintown Fitch and Boardman, have the most students come to YSU with over 100 students from each school every fall semester for the last four years.
Some of the closest high schools to YSU such as Chaney High School and East High School, are not on the list. For fall 2018, these two schools together sent 26 students to YSU.
Geltz said this may be because these schools having a small student body, and mergers in their school systems may have impacted their enrollment.
Even with these 20 feeder high schools bringing substantial amounts of students to YSU in the last four years, YSU’s headcount is not like it once was.
In fall of 2010, YSU’s student enrollment was 15,194. Swegan said YSU may no longer be focused on reaching that high of a head count any time soon, but he would personally like to see the enrollment number reach 13,000.
In the midst of a decreasing number of local high school students attending YSU, there is an increasing number of international students.
According to the YSU preliminary enrollment summary, there are approximately 456 international students enrolled for the spring 2019 semester, an increase of 139 students from the spring 2017 semester.
Nathan Myers, associate provost of international and global initiatives, said he believes the number of international students on campus will continue to increase because of the decrease in local students.
“In the 18-25 age demographic, Northeast Ohio is a negative population growth state; demographers predict that we will be graduating fewer and fewer local students,” he said. “As the local population continues to decline, I expect that a greater focus will be placed on international enrollment.”
Myers said most YSU international students in spring 2019 are from Saudi Arabia with a total of 127 students.
For Myers, the increase in international students brings more than just an increase in student enrollment.
“Interacting and living in a community with people who are different from us challenges and clarifies our own beliefs,” he said. “In some ways, the growing international student body at Youngstown State allows any U.S. student who wishes to engage with a global perspective right here on campus.”