The first of 11 such events over the course of the summer, Tuesday’s Gamecock Orientation brought about 130 students to campus, said Terry Casey, director of student life. He said by the end of summer, his orientation team will likely usher between 1,300 and 1,400 new students through the process.
Many incoming freshmen on campus Tuesday said they were drawn to JSU because of the strength of its programs and its affordability, an ever-important factor as tuition costs are rising across the country.
Desiree Stephens of Adairsville, Ga. said she chose Jacksonville State over King College in Bristol, Tenn. because she was able to get in-state tuition at JSU. The private King College would have cost her about $120,000 for four years, a debt she didn’t want to be saddled with.
She said that she knows she’ll be able to pay back the student loans she’ll have to take out for JSU, especially because she anticipates the “amazing” graphic design program she’s entering will help her get a good job out of college.
Hayley Holdridge, a Southside resident, said the English department initially lured her to campus.
She said she had considered both Auburn and JSU, but ultimately she opted for JSU because she felt like Auburn was more of a science-focused institution and because her scholarship offer there was smaller.
As a Faculty Scholar at JSU, Holdridge receives a scholarship that pays for a full-time tuition of up to 16 hours and books for up to four years.
“I just have to keep my grades up,” she said.
Holdridge is one of 1,247 members of the 2012-2013 freshman class entering JSU with academic scholarships that total more than $6.77 million, according to Martin Weldon, coordinator of scholarships at JSU.
This number does not include program-based scholarships like athletic and music scholarships, said Angie Finley, spokeswoman for the university. She said that JSU does not yet have a final class size for the 2012-2013 freshmen because student will continue to register through the beginning of August. She expects the final roster will exceed number of students the expected for summer orientation.
Scholarships will be increasingly important to students as tuition rates continue to rise across the country. The average tuition at a four-year public university climbed 15 percent between 2008 and 2010 nationwide. Just last month, the JSU Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition rates by 3.92 percent, from $255 to $265 per credit hour for in-state students and from $510 to $530 for out-of-state students.
Incoming freshmen can expect tuition for a 12-credit full-time course load to cost $6,360 annually for in-state students and $12,720 for out-of-state students. According to the university’s orientation packet, estimated living expenses on campus are expected to range from $3,900 to $4,810 per semester for students living in campus housing.
Universities across Alabama are raising tuition rates, citing cuts in state funding. In-state undergraduate tuition will go up about 6 percent, from $235 to $249 per credit hour, at Troy University. At the University of North Alabama, trustees authorized an 8.8 percent tuition increase for the fall, from $204 to $222 per credit hour. Students at the University of South Alabama will see a 7.7 percent increase in tuition and various fees.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.