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Framingham State aims to slow pace of growth

After experiencing surging enrollment for several years, Framingham State University is limiting the annual increase in its overall undergraduate enrollment to 2 percent this September and planning to build a new $42 million, 350-bed dormitory by 2015 to help deal with growing demand for on-campus housing.

Dale Hamel, the university executive vice president, said the limit on the increase in the number of students comes after the university has seen enrollment hikes of 12 percent each year in the past two years, up from 4 percent four years ago.

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Hamel said the enrollment increase, the largest of any of the nine schools in the state university system, comes as students seek less expensive higher education options in the face of economic difficulty. He added that Framingham State offers a beautiful campus close to Boston, a low faculty-to-student ratio, and high job and internship placement rates.

“Students who historically considered smaller private institutions in the Commonwealth are now coming to Framingham State as their first choice,’’ Hamel said.

Although the proposed dorm, part of the university’s five-year capital master plan, is slated to hold 350 beds, 250 of those will serve relocated students displaced from O’Connor Hall, which is projected to become classrooms and faculty offices, meaning the new dorm will add 100 extra beds.

In addition to the dorm, the school is proposing to build an $18 million garage by 2014 on top of the parking lot near the intersection of Maynard Road and Church Street, which would add 300 spaces to the existing 500 spots.

Even though the school plans to limit enrollment growth to 2 percent per year for the next five years.

That limit would reduce the incoming freshmen class size and make the university more selective, demand for on-campus housing continues to rise at a consistent rate, Hamel said.

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