BOZEMAN- Montana State University in Bozeman has set a new enrollment record, with 16,902 students on campus this fall, according to a press release from the school.
In Missoula, however, the University of Montana is reporting that there are fewer students on its campus this semester. The official count released on Friday shows 10,962 students enrolled for autumn semester at UM.
“We had anticipated fewer students, given the number of graduates last spring and over the summer, as well as seeing some troubling early indicators in the spring around the total number of applications,” said Cathy Cole, UM’s new vice president for enrollment and strategic communications.
The fall count of 10,962 students at UM reflects a decline of 7.6% from last fall’s 11,865 student enrollment.
In Bozeman, MSU’s fall headcount is up 1.2 percent, or 199 students, over last fall’s census. The figure marks 11 straight years of enrollment growth for the Bozeman campus.
The headcount includes the second-most Montana students enrolled in the university’s 125-year history. A total of 10,177 Montana students are attending classes at MSU, comprising 60 percent of the student body.
“We are humbled that so many students and their families choose Montana State University,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Our continued success is due in large part to our dedicated faculty and staff who, appreciative of the promise of the land-grant mission, work every day to open doors of opportunity for our students and provide them with the tools to change their lives.”
The university also saw an increase in the number of students returning to MSU for a second year of school, a measure known as “retention.” About 77% of first-time, full-time students returned for their second year — the highest percentage in modern MSU recordkeeping. The university has made increasing freshman-to-sophomore retention one of its priorities because it increases the likelihood that students will ultimately finish their degrees.
Other notable progress toward a strategic goal came in MSU’s graduation rates, which increased to record numbers, according to the new data. The university’s four-year graduation rate jumped more than 2 points to 29.3 percent this fall. In all, the four-year rate has gone up nearly 10 points in the past six years. At the same time, MSU’s six-year graduation rate, the figure tracked by the federal government, also went up 2.6 points to 54.7 percent.
“I often tell parents that we love having their kids here at MSU, but I want them out of here in four years, degree in hand,” Cruzado said. “This year’s numbers show that our students are increasingly on that path — forming bonds with the university that keep them coming back, taking heavier course loads and completing their degrees.”
-David Sherman reporting for MTN