Despite federal aid challenges, St. Ambrose attracts students

Money.com recently published its annual list of the best four-year universities and colleges and St. Ambrose was named “One of America’s Best Colleges” for 2024. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

As many higher education institutions continue to experience challenges caused by the new Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FAFSA) application process, St. Ambrose University is reporting continued enrollments month over month for undergraduate, transfer and graduate students.

“These students are making a big decision. The challenging rollout of the new FAFSA application has delayed their decision-making process and pushed back the usual enrollment cycle,” Toby Arquette, the Davenport university’s vice president for strategic growth, marketing and digital transformation, said in a news release. “We want everyone to know that we are here to help and want to provide any level of support to students and their families.” 

Meanwhile, FAFSA completion rates continue to lag nationally from this time in 2023. But St. Ambrose leaders are encouraged by improvements in both FAFSA completions and university enrollment numbers since April 15. The end of May was especially encouraging with steady deposits continuing into June, the release said. 

For the spring commencement on Saturday, May 18, the school had 585 students receive degrees including 406 bachelor’s degrees and 179 master’s and doctoral degrees.

“We want students and families to know it’s not too late – there’s still plenty of time to make plans to attend St. Ambrose in the fall,” added St. Ambrose President  Amy Novak. “Anyone can request information, apply for free for undergraduate admission, or schedule a personalized campus visit to see why Ambrose is helping students become who they are meant to be. I think many are surprised by how affordable a quality, private university can be.”

St. Ambrose recently announced it is exploring a potential strategic combination with Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The leading Catholic universities have entered into a course-sharing agreement that will allow students to take certain courses at either university beginning in fall 2024. Discussions are continuing toward a potential combination which would open the door for many future opportunities to become a new model for Catholic higher education.

“We want students to know they have great options and that the admission and enrollment process can be simple and surprisingly affordable,” said Mr. Arquette. “In some cases, students choose another school, sometimes a bigger state school, and decide it’s not the right fit for them. When they transfer to St. Ambrose, they say they wanted to try something new or come home to be closer to friends and family and still have an incredible student and campus life experience. That’s what makes St. Ambrose University so special.”

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