According to a document released by the Georgia Tech Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the state of summer enrollment in the institute since the economic crunch of 2008 has improved. Summer semester has since seen enrollment on the rise with an average increase of about 19 percent throughout the Institute in the past five years.
Counter intuitive as it may seem, summer enrollment is inversely related to the decrease in funding.
“Summer offering and enrollment are dependent on other things and not only the financial crunch. The Pell Grant, HOPE scholarship and other internal factors play a huge role as well,” said Paul Kohn, Vice President of Enrollment services. The increase came as no surprise to Kohn. Since the economic downturn, recipients of the Pell Grant have been able to use their grants for summer school, a provision which will be terminated next year.
Many students have taken advantage of this provision to try graduate a semester earlier. “I decided to do summer school to get out earlier or on time since I’m also co-oping as well,” said Bobby Barrett, a third year AE major.
A lot of students are also using their HOPE tuition to attend summer school provided they haven’t exceeded their maximum number of HOPE hours.
“Rather than work low paying jobs, students are re-evaluating that decision to see if they can knock out a few classes to keep them a step ahead,” Kohn said.
However, many students are unsure about how HOPE will affect the rising attendance of summer school. As costs continue to rise, many students are forced to evaluate whether taking summer classes will be a fiscally responsible decision.
Another factor that has increased enrollment in summer is the nature of the colleges themselves. The tuition collected in summer is managed differently than that of the spring and fall sessions. In the fall and spring session, the money is sent to the state treasury. However, in summer, the departments are allowed to keep a portion of the revenue they get from tuition. This creates an incentive for the respective department to offer summer courses. If they have a high number of students enrolled, they can use the money gained from summer enrollment to offset budget cuts to their department.
With the advent of increasing cuts, many colleges are continuing to make summer classes more visible and attractive to students.
“As a result, many departments have tried to promote summer offerings by running ads and you’ll see the different colleges in the Institute are offering more courses this coming summer,” Kohn said.
Approximately 250 freshmen students start during the summer session as opposed to fall, so different colleges at the Institute offer more classes so they can have a full workload in the summer.
“I’ll be working this summer but I’m taking a few classes too and when I registered, I noticed they had added a few more classes which I think is a good thing,” Barrett said.