BIG RAPIDS – Students are back and the campus is bustling at Ferris State University, where officials are reporting another record fall enrollment.
The fastest-growing public university in Michigan, Ferris officials report there are 13,865 students enrolled system wide. With 333 more students attending classes in Fall 2009 over 2008, this translates into a 2.5 percent enrollment increase system wide.
"As Ferris celebrates its 125th anniversary of providing educational opportunities, these enrollment numbers are an exceptional start to the year," said Fritz Erickson, Ferris provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "Strong enrollment growth system wide demonstrates Ferris is offering courses that will prepare the future leaders of Michigan who in turn will help invigorate the state's economy."
Dean of Enrollment Services Kristen Salomonson noted the regular philosophy at Ferris is to merge classroom learning with practical experience. This, coupled with small class sizes and personal attention from faculty and staff, is reassuring to parents and students, she said.
"The Ferris experience is unique, and we're pleased so many new and returning students are pursuing their education with us," Salomonson added. "In this economy, the gateway to success is higher education and a degree. We want to make sure we're doing our part to help the state and its residents."
The Ferris family is committed to its mission of ensuring educational opportunities for all students, Ferris Director of Financial Aid Rob Wirt said. Financial Aid has increased 11 percent from $68.2 million in Fall 2008 to $75.9 million this fall.
These figures include nearly $800,000 in institutional financial aid to more than 330 students applying for special consideration because of financial hardships due to the economy, Wirt said.
"These numbers have faces. Our counselors have met one-on-one with families who have gut-wrenching stories. Families who have not given up on the dream of a higher education providing the training and re-training they need to find meaningful employment," he said.
The growing financial need of students is why the university kicked off its Opportunity@125 and Ferris Cares initiatives in the spring of 2009, said Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Burcham.
Each initiative is poised to strengthen Ferris' need-based scholarship programs, Burcham said.
"A crucial requirement of the university is the ability to have need-based funding available for students in addition to traditional financial aid resources," he said. "Initiatives such as Opportunity@125 and Ferris Cares reinforce The Ferris Foundation's work of providing scholarship opportunities for students."
By the Numbers
Besides its main campus in Big Rapids, Ferris offers degree programs in Grand Rapids through the College of Professional and Technological Studies, and at Kendall College of Art and Design, and at more than 20 off-campus locations throughout Michigan.
Enrollment has increased by 198 students at the university's Big Rapids campus, with 9,865 students enrolled. At the College of Professional and Technological Studies campus in Grand Rapids enrollment has remained stable with 225 students.
Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University set its own record enrollment with 1,385 students, marking the 14th consecutive year of enrollment increases.
"It is gratifying to see how much the programs we offer are resonating with students," KCAD President Oliver Evans said. "With faculty who are professional artists and an atmosphere that promotes creativity, Kendall attracts some of the most talented young artists and designers around."