SFA competing against budget, community colleges for retention

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Administrative decisions often trickle down to university student bodies. Not this time. College students are well aware of budget restraints.

"Instead of being able to take a class in fall and spring, you're only able to take it in spring that year," student Ivy Anassi said. "So that might hold you back from graduation."

Fortunately, the Houston college junior is on track to graduate. The goal is to retain all the others. It's a priority of SFA's faculty senate. Small class size is what attracts and keeps students in one place.

"Faculty and administration are going to be working very hard at making sure those cuts do not run around and harm students, but we know that's going to happen," said Dr. Ken Collier, the SFA Senate Faculty chair.

Enrollment administrators are making data-driven decisions as they access retention programs. Director of enrollment management, Monique Cossich, stated, during this time, we need to say, "if a program is not effective, then we must make changes."

Four-year colleges are also in competition with two-year colleges. The retention rate at junior colleges is at an all time high of 56 percent, according to researchers.

"We do know that two-year colleges often focus on those first generation college goers and that's certainly the route we're taking as well," said Dr. Rick Berry, vice president of academic affairs.

It's a balancing act. The construction of a modern freshman dorm is expensive, but it draws students. University administrators must determine what to sacrifice, without harming the provided service.

One of SFA's biggest draws is a student-to-faculty ratio of 20-to-1.

It's uncertain if that will be maintained as the university faces the prediction of staggering budget cuts.

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