Enrollment Breaks Records; Promise Kept to Low-Income Undergrads Print

There are more students attending all three UW campuses than ever before, the UW Office of Admissions announced Oct. 9, and a new program that pays tuition and fees for low-income, resident undergraduates is covering about 5,500 students.

For the first time in its history, the Seattle campus exceeded 40,000 students. For Fall Quarter 2007, it had 40,281 students compared to last year’s 39,524. While 2007 totals from other institutions have not yet been compiled, historically the U.S. Department of Education puts the Seattle enrollment among the top 25 in the nation.

Photo by Dennis Wise.
Bothell had 1,878 students, a jump of 200 from last year’s 1,678. Tacoma had 2,653 in contrast to 2,292 last year. UWB and UWT began as two-year colleges offering junior- and senior-level courses. This is the first time in these campuses’ history that they are offering a complete, four-year program (see “Freshman Record,” Sept. 2007).

Director of Admissions Philip Ballinger says there are many reasons behind the record-breaking numbers, starting with demographics. There is a larger pool trying to get into college as the “baby-boom echo,” children of the baby boom generation, reaches its peak in a year or two. More high school students are considering a college education than in previous generations. In addition, “the reputation of the University of Washington is strong,” he notes.

UW officials are still trying to track the impact of Husky Promise, the new financial aid program that guarantees low-income, resident undergraduates can attend the UW without paying tuition or fees. If a family of four earned $47,000 or less last year (65 percent of the state’s median income), their son or daughter qualified, provided they met financial aid deadlines and make academic progress.

Financial Aid Associate Director Eileen Robison estimates that 5,500 undergraduates are covered by Husky Promise, but the number will change as more transfer students arrive during winter and spring quarters. The UW pays for Husky Promise through a combination of federal and state grants, tuition revenue and private giving such as the Students First scholarship program.

Ballinger says the UW is still looking at financial aid and application data to see if Husky Promise had an impact on freshman and transfer students applying to the UW. However, he says the entering freshman class is more diverse than the entering class in 1998, the year before a voter initiative banned the use of race or ethnicity in college admissions. Nearly 11 percent of new freshmen are from under-represented ethnic groups.

For example, 3.1 percent of new freshman are African Americans. In 1998 the figure was 2.9 percent. Latino representation also beat 1998 figures—5.7 percent this year compared to 4.6 percent. American Indian percentages also were higher, 1.5 percent versus 1.3 percent in 1998.

“The Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity deserves a lot of credit for expanding our application pool,” Ballinger says. In addition, the UW application process looks at the applicant’s life experiences in addition to the academic record.

The UW had a record 17,808 applications from high school seniors this year. The overall acceptance rate was 64.5 percent. More than two-thirds of all Washington high school seniors who applied were admitted, he says. The in-state acceptance rate was 68.6 percent. When classes started, the Seattle campus had 5,287 new freshmen.

The new class is one of the smartest ever admitted, he adds, with an average high school g.p.a. of 3.69. Last year the entering freshman average was 3.66.


Enrollment by the Numbers

Students at Seattle campus

Students at Bothell  campus

Students at Tacoma campus

Number of freshman applications

Number of applications accepted

Number of new freshmen in Seattle

Average high school g.p.a. of new freshmen

Under-represented minorities in new class