News Local/State

Freshman Enrollment Falls at Illinois State University

ISU students walk through Schroeder Plaza near the Quad in August 2017.

ISU students walk through Schroeder Plaza near the Quad in August 2017. Cindy Le/WGLT

Illinois State University enrolled fewer new freshmen and transfer students this fall, ending three straight years of record-breaking growth, officials said Wednesday.

ISU has 3,352 freshmen this fall, down 9.3 percent (or 342 fewer students) from fall 2016. ISU also saw an 11.7 percent decline in the number of new transfer students (239 fewer students).

ISU’s overall enrollment—including upperclassmen and graduate students—remained relatively steady, despite recruiting pressures from out-of-state competitors and uncertainty about the state budget. ISU’s total fall enrollment (20,784 students) is down 1.2 percent versus fall 2016 (21,039 students). One bright spot this fall was an overall 2.4 percent increase in graduate students—the highest graduate student enrollment in the past three years.

“This fall’s strong enrollment figures show that students recognize the quality and value of an Illinois State University education,” President Larry Dietz said in a statement Wednesday. “Illinois State remains strong and stable and its track record of success continues in the midst of a highly competitive student recruiting environment and the lingering effects of an unprecedented state budget crisis. The University continues to prioritize personalized attention and student success.”

The academic caliber of ISU's new freshman class remained flat from 2016. The average high school GPA is 3.4 on a 4.0 scale, and the average ACT score is around 24.

ISU is faring better than at least one other state university that released their fall enrollment numbers Wednesday. (That typically happens 10 days after the start of the semester.)

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s freshman class is down 19.2 percent this fall versus fall 2016. That’s pushed SIUC’s overall enrollment down 9 percent—a steeper drop than at ISU. Other state university enrollment data was not immediately available.