Admissions, Retention and Financial Aid Committee
ARFAC Meeting Minutes from 14 March 2007
Members Present: Steve Amundson, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Bill Greene, Jill Lynch, Joseph McClanahan, Jean Porterfield, Kathy Ruby, Ariel Strichartz, Michelle Vigen
Amundson called the meeting to order at 3:15 P.M. in Buntrock Faculty Lounge Conference Room, and the minutes from the February meeting were approved with minor revisions.
Lynch provided a report on the class of 2011 admissions and deposits, drawing from a handout entitled “Year-To-Date Profile” compiled on March 9. Some highlights were:
1) the number of deposits continues to increase from 2005 and 2006 (with the caveat that the current deposits still include students that will “melt”, e,g. decide to attend another school between now and Week 0; in fact, Ruby pointed out that last year deposits on May 1 equaled 847 and about 780 started the first day of classes);
2) the admit rate for 2007 is again down from 2005 and 2006 (St. Olaf is being more selective);
3) the academic profile of admitted students has increased.
Strichartz noticed on the handout that while the average academic profile of admitted students is up, the average academic profile of deposited students is back down. This pattern is likely influenced by better students applying to St. Olaf, and also getting in to other high quality schools and thus having more choices. Ruby added that she expects a lower yield rate on admitted students this year in part because of this, but also due to another fairly large tuition raise this year. May 1 is the deadline for deposits, so more finalized statistics will be available after that date.
Greene asked a question about the statistics on the “Year-To-Date Profile” handout: when percentages were given (e.g., “% Lutheran” or “% Minority”) was that a percentage of the total number of students or the total number of students reporting? Lynch said she would make sure with Luke Anderson before confirming.
Academic and Music scholarships were to be mailed in the week following the meeting. This year 154 students were invited for Academic Scholarship interviews (compared with 151 last year), which were only slightly disrupted from that week’s major snowfall. Lynch clarified the taxonomy and statistics of the Academic Scholarships for the committee: there are two levels (Buntrock is the higher monetary award, and Presidential is next) and about 65-95 students get offered Buntrock Scholarships while the rest are offered Presidential Scholarships. About 40 of each type of scholar usually decide to attend St. Olaf.
Ruby provided a financial aid report to the committee including sharing a copy of the letter that President Anderson wrote as notification of the tuition raise. This year’s letter was provided to students in their POs, but was also sent to parents/guardians along with the $600 deposit request. The letter explained that tuition does not actually cover the cost of providing a St. Olaf education, and also highlighted some of the ways that tuition dollars are spent including the new wind turbine and the establishment of the public phone company.
In other financial aid office news, the office just completed awarding service scholarships to about 115 out of about 1400 applicants, and is generally committed to awarding and informing the current students about their awards in May and June. Sarah Le Duc just began her service in the enrollment division, and she will ultimately bridge her work between the admissions and financial aid offices. Vigen asked about the effect of federal and state aid on financial aid packages, and Ruby replied that those sources help St. Olaf meet a student’s need, so when funds from those sources are lower it is more difficult for the college to come up with that money. Amundson asked why different schools meet a student’s need with different total amounts, and Ruby replied that there are different formulas for calculating what a student’s need actually is, and how merit aid is included. Greene asked about how the high-need students have responded to the most recent tuition increase, and Ruby responded that there has been little communication from that group of students; however, the Financial Aid Office develops payment plans for many of these students (even for the $600 deposit), and can also reevaluate the financial aid package. The students should not be shy about working with the financial aid staff. Finally, there was discussion of online versus paper packages and other financial aid business as St. Olaf goes further and further toward paperless business.
Amundson asked for an update on the search for a new Director of Admissions, and Lynch replied that a goal is to have someone begin in early summer. A search firm will likely be used.
Ruby informed the group that the Financial Aid Office’s work with the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) students has produced a student survey about student financial practices (e.g, making payments, working, borrowing), and encouraged the group to help get the word out about taking the survey.
Greene announced that a new Multicultural Alumni Network is forming, and he would provide the committee with more information at the April meeting.
Business for the April meeting will also tentatively include discussion about role(s) that the new Student Life Committee will assume from the current ARFAC, and how the Student Government Association might appoint/elect student representatives to the new committees.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:25 P.M.