Fresno Pacific University sees drop in enrollment numbers amid pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One university here in the Valley is feeling the impacts of COVID-19. Fresno Pacific says it's seen enrollment fall since the start of the pandemic, and that's a big hit to the school financially.

Fresno Pacific's enrollment is usually over 4,000 students. This year, it's only 3,500.

For a small student body, the loss of tuition from 500 students is a big hit financially. The college says it's thanks to federal funding that they've been able to make ends meet.
Fresno Pacific University freshman Candelaria Sanchez knows first hand the financial challenges faced by students.

"I come from a single mother household, so I'm paying for tuition all by myself," explained Sanchez. "I'm taking out loans and doing everything."

Eager for the college experience, she enrolled at Fresno Pacific last fall but says she had second thoughts when the school briefly went online this semester due to rising COVID cases.

"I'm not gong to pay this much if I'm doing it online," said Sanchez. "I can just go to a community college or an online college and it would be cheaper, so if it was going online I would have transferred out."

It's a struggle many students have faced over the past couple of years. While Fresno Pacific University is back to in-person learning, they say enrollment numbers are still less than they were before the pandemic.

"Our new transfer starts is were we've seen the downturn," said Vice President of Enrollment Management Jon Endicott. "Not as many students at the community colleges, so not as many transfer students coming to us."

For the school, this means a big loss in funds. Fresno Pacific University charges roughly $34,000 a year for tuition.
"The revenue declines have been significant from the loss of those students," said Endicott. "We have benefited from federal COVID relief dollars."

The school has received roughly 24 million relief dollars over the past 2 years and half of that has gone straight to the students.

"That covered my books for both semesters," said Sanchez. "It lifted a burden."

The college has also used some of the funds to forgive student debt, but the money only goes so far.

"I think our students still feel that hit," said Endicott. "While we've been able to distribute funds to students, students still have significant financial need."

The university is also utilizing an app to allow students to apply for more aid at any point in the school year. Students can apply, all on their cell phone, and will know within the day if they qualify for COVID relief dollars.
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