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NIU total enrollment falls 3% but freshmen class grows steadily

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University's total enrollment is 15,649 students. That’s an overall 3% decrease from last year.

But freshman enrollment grew for the sixth consecutive year. The freshman Huskie class increased 7% year-over-year and is described as the most diverse in school history.

A university release highlighted the new cohort's academic success. Nearly 40% of the freshmen Huskies graduated high school with a 3.7 or higher grade point average.

As for why it’s been a challenge for NIU to retain those students through graduation, Provost Beth Ingram pointed to a tight labor market, a drying pool of community college transfers and continued pandemic stress.

“We have invested, and continue to invest, substantial resources aimed at supporting our Huskies," said Ingram. "This fall, we’re already seeing heightened engagement among students at events such as Week of Welcome activities and the Involvement Fair.”

At the same time, NIU administrators say new admissions policies are helping with recruitment. The university has a test-free admissions and merit scholarship process. They eliminated undergraduate application fees. Nearly 1,000 NIU freshmen had tuition and fees covered through the state-funded Huskie Pledge program.

Peter is an award-winning education reporter who has been at WNIJ since 2018. He’s also the host of Teachers’ Lounge: a listener-driven podcast & radio show telling the story of education through conversations with teachers and students. He grew up in Sandwich, Illinois, and graduated from North Central College. When he’s not writing & reporting, Peter loves to run at forest preserves across northern Illinois, cook, & hang out with his cat.