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First-ever Free App Weekend a success

See how many students fell for MSU Denver during the Feb. 13-14 promotion.

By Lindsey Coulter and Cory Phare

March 9, 2021

Rowdy standing in front of JSSB entrance.The inaugural Metropolitan State University of Denver Free Application Weekend, held Feb. 13-14, invited prospective undergraduates to stay the course or get back on track without paying the $25 application fee.

Over the two-day event, 373 prospective students submitted undergraduate applications (primarily for the fall semester). Of those, 316 (as of March 5) have already been admitted. Half of all applicants were first-time-to-college applicants, with the second-largest group comprising transfer students. Of all applicants, 58% were first-generation students (ultimately comprising 60% of accepted students), and 59% were female (ultimately comprising 62% of accepted students).

Compared with the same time in 2020, the event gave MSU Denver a 578% increase in applications, said Marlynn Rocha-Vasquez, director of internal operations for Admissions.

“From an Admissions perspective, offering (an application) waiver is an access initiative,” said Cameron Simmons, director of diverse recruitment.

In addition to removing financial barriers for first-gen students and students of color in particular, fee waivers allow prospective students to essentially express interest in the University. This in turn allows the University to begin building a relationship with that student and communicating more strategically and intentionally about MSU Denver’s high-quality, high-value programs and offerings.

However, Simmons adds that an application fee can also serve as an important part of the college process, demonstrating a student has “bought into” an institution they believe in. In fact, MSU Denver has a 10% higher registration-yield rate of registered students who have paid the application fee. The fee can also serve to elevate the University’s brand and increase perception of value.

Additionally, the University already offers the state’s lowest application fee (the next-lowest is $30 at Western Colorado University and Adams State University). MSU Denver also offers a fee waiver and other resources throughout the year to applicants with financial barriers.

What’s next for Admissions

Based on the success of MSU Denver Free App Day, Rocha-Vasquez notes that the Admissions team will likely plan a follow-up event next year, integrating lessons learned and feedback from counselors and students. The team is developing a similar transfer-student-specific event as well, set to debut in 2022.

MSU Denver also participates in the statewide Colorado Free Application Day, most recently held Oct. 13. The support of a robust statewide marketing campaign with more resources and broader reach helped the University net 4,774 applications.

Topics: Access, Enrollment, Events, Registration

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