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Enrollment down at Gainesville State, up at North Ga.
Changes due to recruitment, new admission requirements
Students study Thursday at the coffee shop inside the Academic IV Building at Gainesville State College in Oakwood. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

A detailed enrollment report including all of the schools in the University System of Georgia.

More students are enrolled in public Georgia colleges and universities than ever before.

North Georgia College and State University was among the 23 University System of Georgia institutions with an increase in enrollment, up 2.6 percent from 2010.

Gainesville State College, however, was one of the 12 schools with a decrease in enrollment.

There are about 300 fewer students enrolled this fall than in fall 2010, according to the USG fall semester enrollment report released Wednesday.

"To some extent, we were expecting this," said Al Panu, vice president for academic affairs at Gainesville State. "With the HOPE changes, we were anticipating before the fall some of our students would be harder hit."

Policy changes allowing two-year and state colleges to require a minimum SAT or ACT score for admission and not admitting students who must take certain remedial courses contributed to enrollment declines, according to a press release from USG.

In addition to requiring test scores for college entrance, Panu said Gainesville State also started using the freshman index, which takes into account grade-point average and several other factors as part of admission requirements.

He said Gainesville State is now working more with high school counselors to make sure incoming college freshmen understand the changes to HOPE and financial aid and are able to meet the requirements.

"We obviously always like to see us giving access and opportunity to students. We don't like to see a drop in enrollment, but we don't want a growth of 10, 20 percent either," Panu said. "A 3.5 percent drop is well within what we thought we might see."

North Georgia officials also were not surprised by their enrollment change.

The school has 914 first-time freshmen, 113 graduate students and a total fall enrollment of more than 6,000, according to the report.

"The growth is within our targets," said Terry McLeod, associate vice president for academic affairs at North Georgia. "The increase we see is slightly lower than what we have seen in previous years. We expect we can handle that demand in relation to classroom services and student services."

McLeod said there's been a growing interest in North Georgia for the past several years.

"We work very hard to recruit qualified students and it's also our excellent reputation for quality education," he said.

The big draws to the university include its nursing program, criminal justice, business administration and its associated majors, McLeod said. He said there has also been a growing interest in students wanting to major in international affairs.

Enrollment in USG has increased every year since fall 1998, jumping almost 60 percent since then.

More than 318,000 students are now enrolled, a news release states. That's up 2.1 percent from 2010.

Other institutions with enrollment increases are Savannah State University, Clayton State University and Georgia Gwinnett College, which had the greatest enrollment jump of 43.9 percent.