Admissions, Retention and Financial Aid Committee
ARFAC Meeting Minutes from 11 April 2007
Members Present: Steve Amundson, Luke Anderson, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Bill Greene, Bob Hauck, Jill Lynch, Joseph McClanahan, Jean Porterfield, Kathy Ruby, Ariel Strichartz, Michelle Vigen
Amundson called the meeting to order at 3:17 P.M. in the Buntrock Faculty Lounge Conference Room.
Minutes from the meeting on March 14, 2007 were approved with friendly amendments.
Update from the Admissions Office
Anderson presented the group with the Year-to-Date Profile of the applicants for the class of 2011, noting that the figures on the report are based on the total number of students up to this point. At the end of the year, the figures will reflect the total number of students reporting. The Admissions staff expects the number of deposits to rise after Accepted Student Day (formerly known as Spring Open House) on Saturday, April 14. Such an event typically inspires accepted students who have not yet deposited to do so, given that approximately half of those new students who have already enrolled for fall 2007 will participate (of the 400 students expected to attend Accepted Student Day, 45% have already deposited.) At least 70 students are working through the Admissions Office in order to arrange overnight stays; others are likely making arrangements directly with friends on campus rather than using the Admissions Office.
30% of those attending Accepted Student Day are from out-of-state.
Amundson asked if it would be possible to get a list of students planning to attend Accepted Student Day in order to make personal contact with potential music majors.
Anderson pointed out highlights from the Year-to-Date Profile:
Of those students who have deposited already,
- the percentage of minority students is up from 6.1% in 2006 to 8.6 % in 2007 (an increase of 2.5%)
- the average ACT score is up from 27.3 in 2006 to 28.1 in 2007 (an increase of .8 point)
- the average SAT score is up from 1248 in 2006 to 1276 in 2007 (an increase of 28 points)
- the percentage of in-state students is down from 60% in 2006 to 53% in 2007 (a decrease of 7%)
The acceptance rate is also down by 11% since 2006.
Anderson noted that test scores, GPA, and class rank are still lower among those students who have deposited than in the admitted pool, but this trend is typical because the students with the strongest profiles have acceptances from a wider range of schools.
Asked whether we should be alarmed at the high number of deposits compared to this time in past years, Ruby commented that summer melt (those students who have deposited but who decide not to attend St. Olaf after the deposit deadline) is up by 1% every year; additionally, more people are now willing to double deposit. Some are even depositing before receiving information about their financial aid package. In short, it is difficult to predict the number of deposits as of April 11, 2007. Anderson estimated summer melt at a rate of 7%. The ideal but unlikely scenario would be to peak at 775 deposits but eventually melt to 720.
Hauck inquired what percentage of the deposits corresponded to transfer students. Lynch and Anderson explained that some transfer students have been accepted already but the process has slowed for the year due to the high admit and retention rates.
In response to McClanahan’s question regarding the percentage of transfer applicants who were admitted, Lynch and Anderson confirmed that there were more than 100 applicants this year; of those, 20 have been accepted.
More concrete figures will be available after May 1, which is National Candidate Reply Date. Meanwhile, to date admissions counselors have contacted over 80% of the top admitted students, prioritizing multicultural students first and national students second.
The Financial Aid Office is also keeping track of students who have not filled out a FAFSA and have communicated with Admissions Counselors about contacting those students so that hopefully a financial aid package can be put together for them.
Update from the Financial Aid Office
Ruby explained that all financial aid packages have been mailed and that a committee meets weekly to deal with appeals.
In all, 1,200 awards have been sent. Of those, 850-900 are need-based awards. Financing packages are now being sent out to merit-based cases. Less than 50% of the applicant pool goes through the financial aid process.
Amundson inquired about the percentage of deposited students who are no-need. Ruby will check on those figures. Hauck commented that one of the College’s selling points is to talk about the large number of students who receive aid. As Ruby explained, however, the College uses data based on the number of students already enrolled because other figures are subject to change.
Greene asked whether there had been any fallout at the College from the scandal involving Capella University’s Director of Financial Aid, who was placed on leave for accepting kickbacks from a student loan company. Ruby replied that the President’s Office had received a letter from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, advising the College to review its lending practices to ensure that these are not compromised. It was Ruby’s understanding that such a letter was sent to all post-secondary schools in Minnesota. President Anderson sent a letter to students’ families and information was posted on the St. Olaf website, so to date there have been very few phone calls from concerned parents.
One potential danger of the scandal is that financial aid offices become so hesitant to make any recommendations to students about lenders that the student and his/her family resort to direct-to-consumer loans, which don’t require school certification and often end up covering far more than the school’s actual comprehensive fee, thus causing students and their families to incur more debt than necessary.
Amundson inquired about the survey completed by students from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR). Ruby will invite members of ARFAC to the information session in which students will present their findings.
Update on the Multicultural Alumni Network (MCAN)
Greene distributed information on MCAN, which is an intentional effort by the College to foster a relationship with alumni of color and to connect such alumni with prospective students. Greene also explained the efforts of the Multicultural Affairs Office to focus more stories in the St. Olaf Magazine on alumni of color. MCAN will be inaugurated on Alumni Weekend (May 26). At present the Office of Multicultural Studies is supporting the MCAN initiative, but may be soliciting additional funding at a later date.
Future of ARFAC given the reorganization of the committee structure
Given the wide purview of the future Student Life Committee, Amundson suggested that ARFAC members compile a list of the kinds of business we would like the new committee to consider. Freedman-Gurspan expressed concern that the new committee would not get to business related to ARFAC, which is related but not identical to residence life issues. He also expressed concern that the one-year term for student representatives would be too short to make significant contributions. The group agreed to continue to discuss this issue at the next ARFAC meeting (May 9, 2007).
The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 P.M.