As state universities struggle to retain enrolled students past their freshman year, West Chester University is holding steady with the highest retention rate in Pennsylvania, writes Bill Schackner for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
According to the latest data, WCU retains 88 percent of full-time freshmen past their first year, well above the system-wide average of 78 percent. To combat this trend, the State System has hired the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems to develop recommendations for restructuring the system.
Dennis Jones, president emeritus of the NCHEMS, said that it was too early to talk about consolidation or other system changes, but stated that retention will be a key part of a broader analysis.
“Clearly, retention to the point of graduation is an important factor in boosting enrollment,” said Jones.
According to officials, finance is often the issue, as first-time full-time students with family incomes low enough to qualify for Pell Grants average around 38 percent. However, that number is much smaller at West Chester at 24 percent and significantly larger at Cheyney at 73 percent.
Read more about the issue in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.