Admissions and Financial Aid Update
At this moment in early September, we have a pretty clear picture of our enrollment for the coming term. Overall, we expect to exceed our enrollment target of 2340 by about 60 students and begin the year with approximately 2400 students. This greater than planned enrollment is a result of a larger than expected freshman class and more returning students than anticipated when our projections were developed last winter and spring.
The freshman class, targeted at 440 with Dual Degree students, is likely to be closer to 475 when our official count is made in October. This larger class is a result of more intense outreach from Admissions to admitted students and some significant changes in our scholarship budget and awarding practices. Although we hoped for a positive impact from these new methods, we did not anticipate the magnitude of the impact on our yield (the percentage of admitted applicants who choose to enroll) in a very challenging economic environment for students and families.
Although larger than planned, there is very good news in this class. The Admissions Office, working with the Admissions Committee, made some adjustments in the decision process to try to get a new class with even greater diversity. Financial Aid experimented with many new aid distribution formulas to support this goal of a class that more closely reflected the world at large. As a result, our incoming group has the greatest number of African and Hispanic American students in the last 10 years and possibly in RISD’s history. Overall, 32% of new first-year students are from underrepresented ethnic and racial backgrounds. Another 19% are citizens of other countries, compared to 21% last year. In addition, the numbers of female and male students is in better balance with 35% male students in the group; this is the highest percentage in ten years and compares to 28% in last year’s class. Finally, the academic profile of the class, measured by committee evaluations, test scores and GPAs is right on target with recent classes.
The Financial Aid staff is now guiding RISD’s transition into the federal Direct Lending Program. Mandated by new law, all students who wish to secure a federal education loan must now do that through the US Department of Education, rather than through the web of independent banks used by RISD students in prior years.
Finally, we are looking forward to the arrival of Jean Eddy, who will be joining us at RISD in October as Senior Vice President of Enrollment and Students. Jean has extensive experience, most recently at Brandeis University, in the areas of enrollment, financial aid and student services and her guidance will be invaluable as we compete to bring the best students to RISD.