UNLV braces for freshman enrollment increase

LAS VEGAS - UNLV is bracing for a hefty freshman enrollment increase this fall, when high school graduates begin cashing in on the state's new Millennium Scholarship offer.

Although UNLV's freshman counts have grown steadily in recent years, this year's early figures show a 28 percent jump in the number of would-be first-time college students admitted to the university. At least 75 percent of those admitted students are Nevadans and soon will be Class of 2000 high school graduates.

In May 1999, some 2,409 new students had been admitted to UNLV. This May, the figure is 3,089. Those numbers represent people who have not attended college previously.

Juanita Fain, a UNLV vice president who watches over enrollment, said she does not expect all of the newly admitted students to register for classes. But she does expect UNLV to top last year's 7 percent freshman enrollment increase.

Total enrollment for full- and part-time students at UNLV could climb to 24,000, up 9 percent from last fall's 22,000, Fain said.

''The Millennium Scholarship is going to make a difference,'' Fain said. ''What I cannot tell you is how much of that increase is attributable to the Millennium Scholarship.''

Fain said many of UNLV's expected freshmen probably would come to the university anyway, paying for classes with their own money, their family's money or student loans.

Without time-intensive student surveys, she said, the university will not be able to pinpoint how many Nevadans would have skipped college or attended an out-of-state school without Millennium Scholarship aid.

At this point, UNLV officials do not have plans to gain those answers.

Through the Millennium Scholarship program, Nevada high school graduates who maintained B averages or better are eligible for up to $10,000 in financial aid at Nevada's publicly funded community colleges and universities.

The grants - funded by part of the state's $1.2 billion share of a national settlement with U.S. tobacco companies over smoking-related health-care costs - are designed to cover the tuition and fees students normally would pay in Nevada to earn a bachelor's degree. That amount accounts for about 20 percent of the state-subsidized total cost of higher education.

Students also could use the aid to finance a vocational degree from a community college in areas such as dental hygiene or culinary arts. Students can use the aid to take a combination of community college and university classes.

Robert Silverman, interim president of the Community College of Southern Nevada, said he expects his biggest enrollment gains this fall to be from nontraditional students, who tend to be a mix of middle-aged career changers and part-time students stretched by work and family commitments. Silverman said the college may get anywhere from 500 to 1,000 Millennium Scholarship recipients this fall.

''The Millennium Scholarship probably will not have that much of an impact on us in the first year,'' Silverman said. ''Over time, I think it will impact us more.''


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