This year's freshman class at Pitt-Bradford is the largest and one of the most diverse in the campus's 56-year history and more than a 19% increase over last year's incoming class.
This year's class totals 442 students and surpasses the last enrollment record set in 2009. The class includes nearly 38 percent racial minorities - 20.4% black students, 8.6% Hispanic students, 4.5% multi-racial students, 3.9% students of Asian descent and .5% Native Americans.
The university enrolled more students in many categories: doubling the number of students referred by the Pittsburgh campus who enrolled and increasing the number of students who are eligible for federal Pell need-based grants by 20 percent.
“We have much to celebrate this year,” said Dr. Catherine Koverola, Pitt-Bradford's president. “We welcomed the largest freshman class in Pitt-Bradford's history and welcomed back more returning students than in previous years.
“This reflects the hard work and dedication of our entire campus.”
Dr. James Baldwin and Alex Nazemetz, the vice president and associate vice president, respectively, of enrollment management, cited two primary reasons for the increase.
The first, Nazemetz said, was increased communication. He praised the admissions staff for being dedicated to their territory and to communicating well by emailing and calling prospective students multiple times after meeting them.
Nazemetz credits staff communication with increasing the number of students referred by the Pittsburgh campus who chose to enroll at the Bradford campus.
Admissions last year also visited more college fairs in Texas and Florida, areas where recruiters from the broader Pitt system are focusing.
Nazemetz also stressed the support of local high school guidance counselors. In fact five of the top six high schools from which freshmen came - Bradford Area, Kane Area, Otto-Eldred Area, Warren Area and Galeton Area - are from McKean County or adjacent Pennsylvania counties.
The second factor in the increased class size, Baldwin said, was increased financial aid in the form of Pitt's Success Pell Match Program, which matches the amount of a federal Pell grant. Therefore, if a student received a $5,000 federal Pell grant, he or she would receive an additional $5,000 from Pitt.
More than half of the entering freshman class at Pitt-Bradford are eligible for the grants. Financial aid counselors also examined students' Free Applications for Federal Student Aid to spot and correct mistakes that could negatively affect their financial aid.
Lauren Plaxa, director of college counseling at Freire Charter School in Philadelphia, said the Pell grant match was the defining factor in six of the high school's seniors choosing to attend Pitt-Bradford.
“Students were attracted to the small campus environment, the various activities on campus and the residence halls, but what made it possible for them to attend was Pitt-Bradford's extremely generous initiative to match Pell Grants.
“This was a total game-changer for our students, the vast majority of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and many of whom qualified for the maximum Pell Grant.
“We are so appreciative of Pitt-Bradford's commitment to diversity and inclusion of students from all economic backgrounds.”