Enrollment is up again this fall at Washington's public universities, despite cuts in state dollars to support their operations.

Share story

Enrollment is up again this fall at Washington’s public universities, despite cuts in state dollars to support their operations.

Part of the enrollment jump comes from an intentional increase in out-of-state students, who give a university a financial boost through the much higher tuition they pay.

The University of Washington, for example, has about 160 more freshmen this fall – all from outside Washington state or the country. The increase in out-of-state students was intended to help prevent cuts in in-state enrollment and university programs, said Philip A. Ballinger, assistant vice president for enrollment, admissions.

“If we are to maintain resident enrollment, we have to be able to find ways to do that financially,” Ballinger said. “One way is to enroll a higher number of non-resident students.”

Ballinger says applications from in-state students have plateaued over the past few years, but the number of students applying from other states and countries have continued to grow rapidly, without any recruiting by the university.

Fifty-three percent of freshman applications to the University of Washington are from students who live out of state, although on the university’s three campuses only 18 percent of the students are from other states or countries.

It was more difficult to get accepted to the University of Washington again this fall, but out-of-state students have to work even harder to get in, Ballinger said. The average GPA of UW’s entering freshman class was 3.73, compared to 3.72 last year, and the average SAT score went up from 1790 to 1802.

All of Washington’s public universities are significantly over-enrolled compared to what the state budget pays for after years of student increases, Ballinger said.

Total enrollment at the Seattle campus of UW is 42,446 this fall compared to 42,094 in fall 2009. Enrollment at the Tacoma campus rose by 7 percent to 3,331 students, compared to 3,111 last year. The Bothell campus reports a count of 3,272 students, compared to 2,801 last fall.

Washington State University reports fall semester enrollment of 25,996 for its four campuses, compared to 25,782 in fall 2009. Enrollment at the Pullman campus passed 20,000 students for the first time, up from 19,944 in 2009.

Western Washington University has a record enrollment of 14,979 students this fall, compared to 13,785 on campus last fall.

Central Washington University reports fall enrollment of 11,613 compared to 11,460 in 2009. The freshman class was exactly the same both years: 1,667.

Eastern Washington University reports a jump in both freshman and ongoing student enrollment this year, adding up to 10,750 full-time equivalent students. This is the second year in a row of record enrollment at Eastern, where 10,504 were enrolled last fall.

Fall enrollment figures for The Evergreen State College were still being finalized this week.

Washington’s community and technical colleges also are reporting record enrollments, although they keep track of students in a different way.

A record 161,000 full-time equivalent students attended the mostly two-year colleges during the previous academic year, according to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. This fall’s numbers are up again, but totals won’t be reported until the academic year ends, the association said.