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Decline blamed on smaller student pool, not fallout from sex abuse scandal.

Last updated: April 26. 2013 7:02AM - 500 Views

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STATE COLLEGE — Population declines and concerns over how to pay for a college education contributed to a roughly 9 percent decline in applications to Penn State this year, university officials said.


There were nearly 54,000 applications for all Penn State campuses from potential first-year undergraduates applying to start this fall, according to figures provided to The Associated Press, down from the more than 59,000 applications received to start last fall.


The admissions office cited long-term demographic trends and economic concerns. Industry analysts also have found enrollment declines in many schools nationwide amid worries about the affordability of a college education.


“Affordability and cost are on the minds of families in determining where to go to college,” Anne Rohrbach, executive director for undergraduate admission, wrote in an email this week. “The impact is greatest in the Northeast where the number of high school seniors is declining.”


The number of applications still far exceed the number of students who get admitted. There were nearly 8,000 first-year undergraduate students enrolled in fall 2012 at the main University Park campus in State College, and more than 20,600 systemwide, according to figures from a university website.


The school has not heard that the Jerry Sandusky scandal is a factor in the choices of high school seniors, university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Thursday. She cited focus groups of college-bound seniors over the past year in which participants said the scandal had no bearing on their choices.


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