Augusta State enrollment expected to rise again this year

If the number of applications is any indication, Augusta State University is well on its way to another record enrollment.

Applications are up 8.7 percent against the same time last year, said Carol Giardina, the associate director of admissions. The number of students accepted so far has jumped 24.9 percent from this point last year. Based on those numbers, the university is projecting an overall enrollment growth of 2 percent to 3 percent for the fall, hitting another record and moving ASU closer to maxing out its Walton Way campus.

Tempering projections is the fact that typically about a third of the students accepted to Augusta State don't attend the university, Ms. Giardina said. Also, application numbers might be skewed because the Georgia Student Finance Commission has sped up the process of forwarding applications it collects to the appropriate institutions.

However, she said the application deadline is July 17, and students tend to apply in the final month leading up to the deadline.

"Luckily we still have physical room on campus before we are at capacity," Registrar and Director of Admissions Katherine Sweeney wrote in an e-mail. "The chairs and deans may have to add some sections and utilize more part-timers and rearrange some instructors but we should be in a good position to handle an increase."

Augusta State could break the 7,000-student mark in a year and top its 7,200 student capacity in two years. Plans are to add new academic buildings to Augusta State's Wrightsboro Road campus.

Mrs. Sweeney said the downturn in the economy is driving the enrollment uptick on two fronts.

"Some students who might have gone away will be staying at home so as to avoid room and board charges away from home," she said. "Other Augusta area residents who might have been laid off or had hours scaled back will be re-entering Augusta State to 'retool' and make themselves more marketable. We won't really know the extent of either until after orientations and registrations are over and bills have been paid."

Classes at ASU resume Aug. 17.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.