Zero-cost textbooks, more financial aid part of college’s new enrollment strategy


Vice President of Academic Affairs Carlos Lopez (left), Interim Vice President of Student Services Robin Dreizler and Executive director of Marketing and Communications Ann O’Brien lead the presentation on El Camino College’s new enrolment strategy plan during the Board of Trustees meeting on May 15. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

In an effort to increase student enrollment, changes to federal financial aid and zero-cost textbooks are part of El Camino College’s new enrollment strategy for the next three years.

Presented at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, May 15, as part of the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, the college aims to increase enrollment numbers through 2025.

“The first overarching goal is to increase our enrollment, on average, by 8.6% per year between 2022 and 2025,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Carlos Lopez said. “Our goal this year was 4%, our goal of next year is 8%, and the goal figure after that is a little more than 12%.”

For 2022, the goal was to meet a quota of 15,378 students. The outlook for the 2023-2024 school year is 16,608 students and 18,626 students for the 2024-2025 school year.

The college plans on increasing admission to enrollment rates, as well as percentage rates of students enrolled in 12 or more units by 5% per year through 2024 and 2025.

To achieve this, significant changes with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, and the California Dream Act include expanding the outreach and implementation of financial aid workshops.

“The intent is for the new process to be simplified,” Interim Vice President of Student Services Robin Dreizler said, referring to the financial aid application process. “It’s going from 100 questions to 50 questions.”

Dreizler acknowledged the change in the financial aid process would involve challenges to ensure the change comes to fruition.

Ann O’Brien, executive director of Marketing and Communications, discussed in further detail the marketing and outreach efforts to increase enrollment, focusing on equity and student needs.

“Students in underserved areas that are facing career challenges are not meeting the salary and income levels that we know that they deserve,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said surveys will be sent out to students wanting to return to college, in addition to those with minimal or zero-college experience.

“They will be surveyed using external tools that will allow us to really dig into the data of who is interested in returning, who may have some education at a college level, who may have none and who may be very undereducated and will very much benefit from the services we offer here,” O’Brien said.

In addition to FAFSA, Lopez mentioned a zero-cost textbook pathway, which courses involve no cost through South Bay Promise, and low-cost class materials, such as books.

Students can obtain materials needed before the first day of class.

“All of the research indicates that when that happens, they are more successful,” Lopez said.

An additional plan geared towards creating pathways for students to complete an academic program is in the works in the marketing and outreach department.

Another goal is to allow access for students through the creation and implementation of Program Mapping onto the college’s website for full-time and part-time students.

Lastly, El Camino plans on strengthening partnerships with universities for specific academic programs.

“Things are going to continue to develop and evolve,” Lopez said.


Editor’s Note: Added feature photo on May 25, 2023.