CASTINE, Maine&nbsp- Maine Maritime Academy will start the academic year with an incoming class of about 250 undergraduate students.

The class is about the same size as last year’ s incoming class, but it will push the total undergraduate enrollment close to 900 students, according to President Leonard Tyler.

“That’ s a little beyond where we want to be,” Tyler told the MMA board of trustees last week.

Tyler said they generally like to see enrollment in September at around 860 to 870 students. The college generally graduates about 40 students in December, which, with normal student attrition, brings enrollment for the second semester close to 800 undergraduate students. That 800-student level has been the college’ s target for a number of years.

There was a small decline in the number of in-state students entering the college this year, according to Noelle St. Pierre, the student representative on the board who sits on the student affairs committee. That decrease was offset by a slight increase in the number of out-of-state students.

Potential students are increasing their use of the MMA Web site to learn about the college and to apply online, St. Pierre said. To match that increased Web site interest, the Admissions Office is working on ways to “amp up” the Web site to make it a more effective recruitment tool, she said.

Managing student enrollment, along with increasing energy costs, will be the major challenge facing MMA in the coming years, Tyler said.

“Declining demographics will be a big factor in New England and all down the East Coast,” he said. “You have to go as far south as Georgia before you find any increases in the numbers of high school graduates.”

The college will need to continue its efforts to attract more women to MMA and to look to foreign students to maintain the enrollment levels, Tyler said. The current exchange rate on the U.S. dollar again is making American colleges more attractive to foreign students, he said.

“Our life’ s blood has always been tuition dollars,” he said. “If enrollment drops significantly, we could see problems in maintaining our operational budget.”

The college’ s high placement record in all majors remains high, which could be a positive selling point to potential students, according to the Tyler. There has always been a job market for MMA graduates, he said, and enrollment has always been affected by that positive placement record.

“Hopefully, that will hold true in the future,” he said.