Retention Is Up, Enrollment Down At NIU; Mixed News Elsewhere In Illinois

Sep 7, 2016

It's a mixed bag of news about enrollment from state schools in Illinois this week.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker says enrollment is down 5.5%, putting the school at 19,015 students university-wide. Baker tells the campus community that the largest decline is in the freshman class. Numbers from NIU show there are 457 fewer freshman compared to last year; that's a drop of 20.2%. Smaller declines took place among transfer and graduate students. 

On the good news side, students are staying once they enter NIU. The number of last year's freshmen who returned is up 1%, and the retention of transfer students is 2% higher than last year. Enrollment in the NIU law school is up 4.3%, which bucks a national trend for law schools.

Southern Illinois University officials say fall enrollment there is down 7.5 percent from last year.  Enrollment this fall is 15,987, compared to 17,292 last year. Officials add they aren't surprised by the drop.  The loss of around 1,300 students translates into $6.5 million in lost revenue, but the university says it accounted for that in a prior cut to spending.

Western Illinois University says enrollment this fall has fallen by 7 percent.  WIU says enrollment dropped by 721 students to 10,373. But the school's freshman class is 1,527. That's only eight less than a year ago.  

Eastern Illinois University  reported freshman enrollment was down 25 percent to 1,251. Overall enrollment was off 2.6 percent to 7,415. 

The state went most of last school year without providing money for universities before agreeing to partial funding. Some schools reported declining applications as a result. 

But Illinois State University says its fall enrollment is up, and the school has its largest freshman class in decades. ISU says the 21,039 students on campus is a 1.1 percent increase over a year ago. The 3,638 freshmen make this the largest incoming class in 27 years. 

Meanwhile, the state's flagship school, the University of Illinois, says fall enrollment is up but the number of incoming freshmen at its Chicago campus is down. Enrollment at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus is up 1.8 percent to 44,087 and freshman enrollment is up slightly to a record 7,592. The Springfield campus reported a 1 percent enrollment increase to 3,483 and an 11.9 percent freshman boost to 300. Freshman enrollment at the Chicago campus dropped 5.1 percent to 3,307. Overall enrollment was up less than 1 percent to 28,710. 

Compiled from Associated Press reports with additional information from WNIJ's Susan Stephens and Guy Stephens