Student enrollment for Georgia Southern University was 19,691 for the 2010-2011 academic year and more than half of those students are expected to remain in Statesboro this summer.
According to Betsy Nolen, assistant director of communications at GSU, student enrollment will be around 10,000 for the summer semesters that began Monday.
Although official numbers will not be released until after the summer B-term starts in late June, the university already has seen its summer numbers rise in previous years. It has grown from 8,892 students in the summer sessions of 2008 to a record enrollment of 9,950 students last summer.
The condensed class periods result in longer class time for students, but carry the same workload. Many students remaining in Statesboro they are taking classes to catch up, get ahead or finish up their degrees.
“I take summer classes because I want to get ahead so I can graduate early,” said senior Melissa Strickland, an information technology major.
Some students are taking advantage of HOPE before the changes in eligibility requirements kick in in August or continue to use their government grants.
“It pays to say in school,” said Kadisa Johnson, a Spanish and information technology major. “The government pays for me to stay in school, so I do.”
Nolen cited future changes in the HOPE scholarship as a reason for some students staying but noted that summer numbers have been on the rise for several years.
“It is important to note that we have no way of knowing who is staying on campus because of HOPE, and who would have enrolled anyway,” she said. “We have seen a steady increase in summer enrollment for several years—so, we could not attribute increases just to the HOPE situation.”
These students represent a change in summer business for the local economy.
“Student business slowed down significantly during the summer months years ago, but I think now many will tell you that is not the case because roughly half of our student body now stays over the summer to take courses. Last year, our summer sessions had a record $59.1 million economic impact on the area,” Nolen said.
This increase of students represents the growth of the university in recent years. GSU expects its numbers this summer to reflect the recent trends of past summers and looks to continue to grow in the future, Nolen said.