Enrollment decreases as competitors gain students

Graphic by Anthony Catezone

Graphic by Anthony Catezone

Jack Cruikshank and Debby Hernandez

With Eastern’s fall enrollment decreasing by approximately 8 percent compared to fall 2013, three similar public universities around the state also tolerated a decrease in enrollment.

While those three, Western and Northern Illinois Universities and the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, currently have a smaller fall enrollment versus fall 2013, three other universities around the state have experienced an increase in enrollment as compared to their enrollment numbers from fall 2013.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and Illinois State University each have an increased enrollment of around 1 percent higher than a year ago.

President Bill Perry said the university has increased financial opportunities for students as part of an enrollment initiative, but competition has been a setback.

“We have put more money into institutional aid in the past three years; however, some other institutions appear to have increased aid,” Perry said.

Perry said Eastern’s approach this year included getting students with better ACT scores and better grade point averages as part of the university strategic plan toward excellence.

SIU-E gained 122 students and currently claims 13,972 students, while SIU-C gained 25, and is currently at 17,989.

U of I gained 0.5 percent, currently at 43,603. ISU gained 343 students this fall, and currently instructs 20,615 students.

Perry said various factors contributed to low enrollment numbers in some Illinois institutions.

“The economy, affordability, more competition from private and out-of-state institutions, and the number of high school graduates going down—all of those factors are creating changes in transitions,” he said.

Eastern’s drop of 8.8 percent (currently 8,913) is the largest percentage drop of the schools, with Western losing 2.1 percent (currently 11,458) and Northern losing 2.5 percent (currently 20,611).

Jack Cruikshank can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

Debby Hernandez contributed to this article.