Private colleges facing enrollment issues

St. Bonaventure University
In this Aug. 29, 2015 photo, students walk past the public safety building at St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure, N.Y. Students at New York state's private colleges and universities return to campus with a new, affirmative sexual consent policy to combat campus sexual violence. A bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the summer expands on a policy in effect at public colleges which includes a "yes means yes" definition of consent requiring a clear, affirmative agreement between partners. In July, New York became the second state, after California, to write the affirmative consent standard into law for campuses. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Private university enrollment is down nationwide and that’s true for schools in Western New York, as well. They’re working to find new, unique ways to attract students to have them enlist there for their education.

“The administration everybody else has that sense of community,” said John Crawford, the Vice President for College Relations at Medaille College.

Medaille’s current undergraduate student enrollment sits at 2300 – a number that has been declining in the last 10 years.

“We’ve made some changes at Medaille to make sure we have a vibrant academic community and healthy bottom line,” said Crawford.

Just up the street at Canisius College, they’re facing the same issue. Their enrollment sits at 2550 undergrads. Private colleges, like Medaille and Canisius, come with a hefty price, around $30,000 a year.

“We can’t match the tuition of the state university,” said John Hurley, the President at Canisius. “We try to get that in the ball park for a family and to see the value.”

The private colleges rely on tuition to stay afloat. Around 90% of their operating budgets come from tuition money.

“We have been through a very aggressive plan here over the last four years, looking at every corner of the college to drive out any inefficiency, any waste,” said Hurley. “We’ve done it by the active cooperation of everyone but we haven’t touched the academic quality at all.”

“Although there are other private college and universities [around Western New York], we don’t always compete for same types of students,” said Crawford.

Students say programming, class sizes and unique majors attract them to the private colleges.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I have known the tradition of excellence, they’ve had here,” said Connor McKenna, a freshman studying at Canisius. “I knew it would be a good fit for me.”

“I looked at some bigger, cheaper ones like ECC and Buff State,” said Frank Reinhardt, a student at Medaille. “It is such a large school and you get lost in the mix and you’re more of a number than a student. Where as here, everybody, everywhere you walk, already knows my name.”

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