UW-Bothell biggest branch campus with 4,172

BOTHELL, Wash. (AP) - With more than 4,000 students enrolled for fall quarter, the University of Washington's Bothell campus is now the biggest branch campus in the state, with plans to grow even more over the next few years.

UW plans to expand past the current 4,172 students and toward 5,000 in Bothell by 2015, The Daily Herald reported Thursday.

The campus's dramatic growth is attributed to both its location and the increasing demand for higher education across the state.

UW-Bothell got its first big enrollment boost when it started accepting freshmen and sophomores in 2006. The 670 freshmen enrolled this quarter make up its biggest incoming class ever. Enrollment has grown steadily since 1,884 students enrolled in fall quarter 2007.

The state's second largest branch campus is UW-Tacoma with 3,919 students. Washington State University has three branch campuses and would like to open a fourth in the Everett area.

WSU-Spokane, which enrolls only upper-level students, has 1,247 students this fall. WSU-Vancouver has 2,980 students, and WSU-Tri-Cities has 1,438. Other Washington universities offer classes around the state, but those programs are not branch campuses.

WSU, which is holding classes at the University Center at Everett Community College, is seeking $2 million from the state to expand its course offerings.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson is part of a group trying to get a WSU branch established in his city.

"This is evidence that people in our area are seeking access to higher education opportunities," Stephanson said in an email.

Junior Andrew Harvey, 21, transferred this quarter to UW-Bothell from the adjoining Cascadia Community College. He chose Bothell after also visiting UW's campuses in Seattle and Tacoma, because of its size and because of the state's plans to expand the campus.

"(The Bothell campus) fit the requirements I had for the perfect school," the computer science major said.

Tuition is only slightly less expensive at the branch campus vs. Seattle, but Harvey noted he could save money by staying close to home and living with his parents.

"The cost of living in Bothell is cheap. It's a lot cheaper compared to other campuses," he said.

About half the incoming freshmen at UW Bothell are the first in their families to attend a four-year university. And the number of students in all grade levels who belong to a minority group has reached 1,781.

Christina Aguirre, 18, is trying to become the first member of her family to get a college degree.

The Mariner High School graduate is studying business so she can get a good job.

"I wanted to be the family member that can help them financially," Aguirre said.

She chose Bothell because liked the campus. She also appreciates its smaller class sizes and the fact that it's closer to her Everett home.

About a third of the students who go to the UW-Bothell originally went to high school in Snohomish County.