Incoming college freshmen interested in attending UC Merced in the fall have returned 1,065 Statement of Intent to Register forms to the school -- a move university officials say will boost enrollment this year.
Students must return the nonbinding forms to signal their decision to attend.
The latest numbers bode well for UC Merced, which received 731 forms from incoming freshman students in fall 2007. That means 46 percent more students plan to attend the school this year.
Kevin Browne, UC Merced's assistant vice chancellor of enrollment management, said the latest numbers mean the school is on track to meet its goal of 2,500 students enrolled in fall 2008. Student enrollment at the school is now 1,871. The university had about 865 students when it opened in 2005.
"We're thrilled," Browne said. "The numbers are a huge vote of confidence in the campus, its faculty and the outreach efforts we've been doing in the last three to four years. I think the word is finally getting out there."
Browne said the campus expects about 900 new students when the fall 2008 semester actually begins.
That's because not every student who returns a form.
For example, even though 731 students returned SIRs for fall 2007, only 669 enrolled.
"That's very common at every university across the country," Browne said.
Students must submit their final transcripts and test scores by June 15.
UC Merced is still accepting forms even though the deadline was May 1, Browne said.
Transfer students don't have to return forms to UC Merced until June 1.
Of the 9,980 students who applied to UC Merced for fall 2008 semester, 7,658 were offered admission, compared to the 6,462 students offered admission a year ago.
Enrollment has been a recurring issue since UC Merced opened its doors in 2005 -- partly because the university's initial projections were too high. Campus officials estimated a first-year student population of 1,000 students.
The university's original growth plan projected a fall 2006 population of 1,800 students, with 1,000 returning students and 800 new ones. Student enrollment was about 1,285 that year.
While administrators at first expected to add 800 new students every year to the campus, last year they scaled back those plans, opting to aim for a projected enrollment of 675 new students a year.
UC Merced officials expect 57 students to graduate with degrees from the school later this month, while about 100 are expected to walk during graduation ceremonies.