First-year students entering Stephen F. Austin State University this fall have met higher academic standards than any previously admitted students.

The higher admission standards were approved by regents in January 2010 based on a recommendation by a committee of faculty and staff members that studied the standards in place at that time.

"The increase in admission standards will improve our retention and graduation rates," said Dr. Richard Berry, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Those rates are often used in measuring an institution's success, and it's important to us that the students we bring to campus are academically prepared for the rigors of university study."

To allow time to communicate the increased standards to prospective students, the changes were approved for implementation for the fall 2012 semester.

"Increased admission standards will have a significant impact on the quality of students we attract to our university and will help us meet our long-term goals of increased enrollment and retention of students," Berry said.

Previous admission requirements for students in the top quarter of their graduating class did not stipulate a minimum ACT or SAT score. Under the new standards, students in the top 10 percent of their class will not have a minimum score requirement. Students in the top 11 to 25 percent of their graduating class now will be required to score an 850 on the SAT or an 18 on the ACT. While ACT and SAT writing scores are required for application consideration, the writing scores are not used in calculations for SFA admission purposes.

The minimum SAT score for students in the second quartile of their graduating class has increased from 850 to 950, and the minimum ACT score has increased from 17 to 18. Students in the third quarter of their high school graduating class must score 1100 on the SAT or 24 on the ACT. The minimum scores for admission had been 1050 and 23, respectively.

Students who graduate in the fourth quartile of their high school class may request a review of their admission application. Previously, fourth-quartile graduates with an ACT score of 28 or an SAT score of 1250 were admitted.

In addition to meeting these standards, SFA students must successfully complete the recommended or advanced high school program or a program that includes curriculum similar in content and rigor to the recommended program.