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Potsdam enrollment up, college looks to Canada to boost numbers further

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POTSDAM — Early enrollment numbers at SUNY Potsdam are better than any of its peers in the SUNY system, helping the college to recover from a 21 percent dip in applications at this time last year.

Interim President Dennis C. Hefner discussed the enrollment numbers at the end-of-semester College Council meeting Friday.

The college saw an 18.7 percent increase in applications, more than any of its 11 peer SUNY Schools, including SUNY Brockport, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Fredonia.

Dr. Hefner attributed the increase to several factors, including an increase in the number of recruiters.

The rise isn’t quite enough to cover last year’s steep drop in enrollment, which affected all of SUNY Potsdam’s peers and has been blamed largely on a drop in high school graduation rates.

“We’re recouping to where we were,” Mr. Hefner said.

More students means more tuition money for the college, which will help it battle its $2.4 million budget deficit in the year to come.

“That’s going to be very positive and very good for us,” Mr. Hefner said.

He also detailed the college’s plans to attract more Canadian graduate students. International students pay three times the tuition rate of in-state students. The program will offer a free room and a commuter meal plan to Canadian graduate students, with the cost being covered by the extra tuition they pay.

Many Canadian students stay at the campus three days a week and return home for the other four. Those who want to stay on campus full time will be able to upgrade to a full meal plan at a reduced cost.

Only four new students need to enroll for the program to break even, Mr. Hefner said.

“I think it’s a good program, and let’s face it, Canada is not that far away,” he said.

The college once had a similar program that applied to both graduate and undergraduate students. However, many of the Canadian undergraduates were recruited to the college hockey team. When the NCAA audited the college, it found hockey players were receiving an unusually large proportion of scholarships, and the program was shuttered several years ago.

The council also provided an update on the eight students who lost their apartments when 28 Pierrepont Ave. was destroyed in a suspected arson fire last month. The college community raised more than $2,000 to help the students replace their lost items, and all of the students have found a new place to live. There were no injuries.

Brandi Lee Saumier, 21, was charged with starting the fire. Although she lived at the house, she was not a SUNY Potsdam student.

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