Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Loyola University is expecting a much smaller freshman class this fall. It could be part of a national trend that sees more students attending public universities closer to home.

It appears that the incoming freshman class to Loyola this fall will be down around 30 percent. University administrators spent Tuesday gathering current enrollment numbers now that more deposits have come in since May.

The Loyola spokeswoman said that the new updated numbers were going to be released Friday to the faculty and staff, but because of all the media attention, they are going to be released to them Wednesday.

Next door at Tulane, its freshman class size is the same as past years, just down 20 students by design. Administrators say it's to keep the class size at an optimum size. Applications remain the same, but the Tulane admissions office has noticed changes in the marketplace.

'Certainly it's been more and more of a struggle since the recession hit and families are struggling more and more to pay (for) college. So it is difficult to get those families to commit, to make such a big commitment,' said Dr. Faye Tydlaska, the director of Admissions at Tulane University.

She said Tulane has seen a sharp increase in the number of families asking for financial aid. And local student enrollment is down.

'We're seeing a slight decrease in our Louisiana, in particular our New Orleans students, attending the university. I think a lot of that does have to do with finances. We are seeing an increase from the west, so California, even Illinois, had a great year. Primarily, California has been a huge increase for us over the past three years,' Tydlaska explained.

That's because nationwide, there's a trend to go with lower cost, in-state options. While some private schools such as Tulane and Loyola range from nearly $50,000 to $60,000 a year, state universities such as LSU and UNO, and other private schools such as Xavier University, are less than half of that cost. Some students choose a community college, such as Delgado, to save money the first two years before transferring to a university.

Loyola plans to have details Wednesday on the shift in enrollment. It is not known if Loyola will make up for the shortfall in tuition through staff cuts, or by dipping into its endowment.

Tulane recruiters are already working on the freshman class of 2014. They go to 60 cities across the U.S. and get 90 percent of the new students from those efforts.

Estimated in-state resident cost per year for tuition and room-board (Fall and Spring Semesters 2013-2014) for a full time student taking 12 hours:

Tulane $61,166 (includes books and miscellaneous)

Loyola $48,782 LSU $23,620 (includes books and transportation)

UNO $19,700 (includes books and transportation)

Xavier $42,000

Delgado $5,950 (no room and board)

Below is a statement from Loyola:

Loyola University New Orleans is anticipating up to a $9.5 million budget shortfall due to lower-than-expected enrollment of first-year students for the 2013-2014 academic year. According to a letter sent yesterday to the university community from Loyola President Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D., the university expects an incoming first-year class of approximately 600 to 625 students, short of its enrollment goal of 875 first-year students.

'Over the last century, Loyola has been successful in overcoming its fair share of challenges, and we will meet this new test with the same commitment to prevail,' Wildes said. 'This university is not alone in facing reduced enrollment and budget cuts. We know that many other schools across the nation have confronted the same or similar issues recently, including higher education institutions here in New Orleans.'

Loyola administrators are currently developing strategies drawn from input from the entire university community to increase enrollment and balance the budget shortfall. Most of these strategies will be implemented throughout the next fiscal year, however, the most immediate of these will be a hiring freeze, which takes effect Aug. 1.

The university is also considering strategies such as voluntary retirement and severance packages, reducing some 37.5-hour positions to 30-hour positions, reducing some 12-month positions to 10-month positions, lowering employer-paid fringe benefits and taking an additional drawdown from the university endowment. A combination of some of those options to balance the budget will likely be implemented throughout the upcoming fiscal year.

A committee of university leaders has also been formed to guide and monitor enrollment management issues for the short- and long-term. This committee, chaired by Loyola Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Marc Manganaro, Ph.D., will work closely with the Office of Enrollment Management on issues such as pricing and setting enrollment and net revenue targets.

'Loyola is taking proactive steps and is diligently working to examine all options to balance our budget. We are calling on alumni and friends for their support as well. Together, the Loyola family will overcome this fiscal challenge and we will continue to provide a great academic experience in the Jesuit tradition for our students,' Wildes said.

Editor's Note:The video version of the story has UNO's tuition a few thousand dollars higher than its actual amount. That's because it includes off-campus room and board.

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