Enrollment Exodus

Many public and private institutions of higher education in Illinois have seen student numbers continue to drop over the last decade. Contributing factors include the state's ongoing financial instability, a shrinking population overall, and increased competition from other Midwestern colleges and universities offering lucrative financial aid packages.

We are unpacking the effect of Illinois students leaving the state for college and what these schools are trying to do to buck the trend. Enrollment Exodus is a week-long collaborative reporting effort by public radio stations across the state.

Special thanks to contributing stations: Illinois Newsroom, NPR Illinois, Tri-States Public Radio, WBEZ, WGLT, WNIJ and WSIU.

Story links will be posted here throughout the week of Sept. 23.

Rich Egger with Tri-States Public Radio reports the Enrollment Exodus is causing pain well beyond the confines of the Western Illinois University campus in Macomb.

Enrollment at Western Illinois University has fallen sharply over the past decade. WNIJ’s Peter Medlin talks more with Tri States Public Radio News Director Rich Egger about his reporting on how that has affected the communities around Western.

What happens when universities see enrollment plunge year after year? Peter Medlin with WNIJ explores how Illinois schools focus on how to hold on to the students already walking their halls.

International students, especially those from China, play a crucial role in funding Illinois’ flagship university. From NPR Illinois, reporter Dusty Rhodes looks at how current immigration policies and the murder of a Chinese scholar have affected enrollment statistics at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Private higher education institutions in the state face the same challenges public schools do and a couple extra. In this part of our series Enrollment Exodus, WGLT's Charlie Schlenker reports how private colleges and universities in central Illinois cope.

Enrollment at Illinois community colleges has dropped over the last half-decade for nearly every ethnic group. But Latinx enrollment is holding relatively steady. As Illinois Newsroom’s Lee Gaines explains, community college is accessible for many Latinx students, but that doesn’t mean they always earn a degree.

This year, Illinois State University had a slight increase in enrollment to make the largest freshman class in 33 years.  WGLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with Jana Albrecht, ISU's Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management about why ISU has stayed even while others have not.

A four-year degree is not the only option for students when they finish high school. As WSIU's Jennifer Fuller reports, many choose community college in an effort to join the workforce sooner and save on tuition costs.

Illinois public universities have seen enrollments decline — in some cases, drastically — over the past few years. One school in Chicago is not struggling to fill classrooms. The University of Illinois at Chicago is seeing record increases. Kate McGee from WBEZ in Chicago explores the growth.

STATEWIDE: Enrollment Exodus edition

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