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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    As Applications Pile Up, Enrollment to Remain the Same

    Stony Brook University has received 27,000 applications from prospective students so far this year, up from a grand total of 25,000 last year, according to school officials, but enrollment will remain roughly the same.

    With the economy still in shambles, admissions officers are seeing a jump in applications. Students and faculty at Stony Brook are concerned about how the growing trend will affect the university.

    According to State University of New York, there are approximately 440,000 students enrolled in its 64 campuses in the current academic year, up almost 30,000 from 2003. It received nearly 300,000 applications, an increase of nearly 25 percent from five years ago.

    The university’s resources are already stretched to its limits, some students complained. Incoming freshman are tripled in rooms designed for two students, and the tuition increased by roughly $300 last semester. Students simply don’t want Stony Brook shouldering more than it can handle with its current resources.

    Deepa Ganesh, 19, was concerned about the increased applications for Stony Brook because she thought that enrollment rates would increase too, further exacerbating the institution’s resources.

    The assistant provost of admissions and financial aid at Stony Brook University, Matt Whelan, said that is not happening. “We are not looking to increase the number of freshman that we bring in this year,” Whelan said in a question and answer session in the university’s newsroom.

    According to Whelan, the number of New York residents applying for Stony Brook increased by roughly 5 percent from last year. When Whelan first joined the university in 2006, there were roughly 22,000 applications. Even though the number of applications has increased drastically in recent years, the SUNY institution is going to be more conservative in accepting students.

    Currently, the school has accepted 3 percent fewer student than it did at this time last year, Whelan said. Being more selective in choosing students is helping it to raise its academic standing. “It’s the only university I’ve worked at where the academic substance exceeds the academic reputation,” the assistant provost said.

    After an explanation of the situation, Ganesh changed her thought about the issue. She agreed that the school was underrated.

    Alice Yu, 20, was happy to hear that the school was being more selective. “As a student at Stony Brook University, I would have more prestige,” the economics and statistics student said. She jokingly added that she was glad that she already goes to Stony Brook.

    But some students disagree.

    “I think that’s crap,” Ron Kangas, 29, said. The economics and business student believed that SUNY schools were the stepping stones for those who come from community college. It is a second chance for people to step into the academic setting.

    Those close to the admissions process are predicting the same will happen across the nation.

    The hard numbers have not come in for the current year yet, said the associate executive director of external relations at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Barmak Nassirian. The numbers are expected to have increased significantly from last year, but he stressed the point that these are only predictions. “There is no way that we can predict enrollment,” the director said.

    Nassirian explained that, in past economic recessions, public universities experienced a jump in applications. He saw the opposite happen in private universities. “But not at Harvard or Yale and other elite schools,” Nassirian said with a chuckle.

    Prospective students explained that they applied to public universities because of their affordability.

    Raymond Harris recently found what he was looking for in his mailbox, a bulky envelope from Stony Brook University.

    Harris, 17, is a student at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, and he avoided any private schools when he was going through the long application process. He believed that it was not feasible for his situation.

    His parents own a small furniture store in Queens. After the housing market collapse, fewer people are buying homes and fewer people need furniture.

    He explained that public universities have been underrated. “Education is education no matter where you go,” Harris said.

    Harris was enthusiastic, but he realized that financial aid coverage would be inadequate.

    Federal and New York state aid will increase this year, according to Whelan. A student from a low-income household can get nearly $9000 in aid on the state and federal level.

    Kenny Lin, 17, is a high school senior from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He is currently a student at Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the city’s specialized science high schools. He said that the slumping economy will affect his choice of school, and the affordable price of Stony Brook was enticing.

    He was accepted into Stony Brook University as well as Syracuse University. Even with financial aid, the price tag for the private university was a hefty $50,000 a year, excluding loans. At Stony Brook, he pays about $5,000 a year, including loans.

    “Aside from the fact that the country has this crazy debt, I don’t think that [the economy] has affected me personally,” Lin said.

    Even though the slumping economy is driving more students to apply to SUNY schools and driving their academic standing up, they are experiencing budgetary cutbacks.

    Sharwat Jahan, a biochemistry student, was at the commuter lounge doing the budget for her club. As the treasurer of the archery club, SBU Company of Archers, she noticed that the Undergraduate Student Government is enforcing its policies more stringently — funds have tightened.

    “If it’s not really necessary, USG might not give it to you, because they need to make adjustments to budget cuts,” Jahan said while she looked over her work.

    Ganesh was an employee at the campus bookstore last semester and noticed budget cuts there as well. “I don’t think they’ll rehire me for next semester,” the psychology and biology major said. The bookstore cut its staff and Ganesh is concerned that the economic crisis will inhibit her search for another job.

    Kangas believed that the economic downturn took a toll on class availability. Searching for classes became frustrating for him because he works. He takes classes in the morning and works with mentally ill children later in the day.

    The budget cuts have not been the only woe of the dismal economic condition. Some students work to make ends meet, and the sluggish economy is creating an even greater obstacle for some students.

    Kangas noticed that overtime is no longer given, but there hasn’t been a reduction in the number of workers. “Luckily in my field, you can’t really fire people,” Kangas said.

    Yu tutors in Brooklyn on the weekends, but recently, she has had less work. “Parents just call up and cancel on the spot,” Yu said.

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