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JACKSON, Miss. — More than 80,000 students are working toward building a successful career and brighter future by pursuing a college degree. Across Mississippi’s eight public universities, preliminary fall 2013 enrollment figures show an decrease of 506 students from fall 2012 numbers. This is the first time in 20 years that overall enrollment has shown a decrease.

“While the decrease system-wide is small,” said Dr. Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education. “It does demonstrate that the changes in the Pell Grant program are having an impact on the decisions students are making.”

Preliminary enrollment figures are unduplicated and count students one time if enrolled on more than one campus.

Alcorn State University
FALL 2012 3,950  FALL 2013 3,927

Delta State University
FALL 2012 4,763 FALL 2013 4,785

Jackson State University
FALL 2012 8,819 FALL 2013 9,134

Mississippi State University
FALL 2012  20,365  FALL 2013  20,161

Mississippi University for Women
FALL 2012 2,650 FALL 2013 2,635

Mississippi Valley State University
FALL 2012 2,479 FALL 2013 2,279

University of Mississippi/University of Mississippi Medical Center
FALL 2012 21,528  FALL 2013 22,286

University of Southern Mississippi
FALL 2012 16,468 FALL 2013 15,325

System Total
FALL 2012 81,022 FALL 2013 80,532

“The enrollment figures statewide are similar to the number of students enrolled in 2011,” said Bounds. “The decrease in enrollment numbers at our Delta institutions reflects the population decline in the Delta region. The increase in enrollment at Delta State reflects the increase in the Teach for America program.”

Delta State University hosts the Teach for America program that brings students from across the nation to the campus for classes to prepare them for teaching in schools across the Delta and beyond. Due to the success of the DSU program, the number of TFA students coming to Delta State has doubled since the program’s arrival on campus in 2010.

“Our universities have worked hard to keep costs down and increase efficiencies,” said Bounds. “However, the numbers show that we must do all we can to help our students attain a college degree. The investment made today will provide a tremendous return to the state as these students graduate, enter the workforce and become the innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.”

Freshman students again selected Mississippi State University as their “college of choice” for the fall 2013 semester.

First-time freshman enrollment at the state’s flagship research university has reached 3,156, an increase of nearly 10 percent over last year’s number of 2,894.

Overall enrollment at Mississippi State remained stable, continuing to exceed 20,000 and currently standing at 20,161. Also, the university boasted its highest-ever average ACT score of 23.94 for entering freshmen.

“I’m excited that we begin the fall 2013 semester with a record freshman enrollment and the highest average ACT scores in the university’s history,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “The record number of freshmen enrolled reflects the growing realization that MSU offers students and their families the highest return on investment in Mississippi higher education and that a degree from MSU affords our graduates the highest average starting salaries in Mississippi.”

Graduate school enrollment showed a decline, with a key factor being continued reductions in funding at the federal level.

“The decision of the federal government to systematically reduce available federal research funding also directly reduces the number of graduate assistantship opportunities,” said Keenum. “Despite those challenges, MSU remains Mississippi’s premier research university and continues to serve the needs of our state and nation.”

Additionally, Keenum noted growth in enrollment in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (up 10.87 percent) and College of Engineering (up 5.54 percent):

–2,152 in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and

–3,522 in the College of Engineering.

Other enrollment information includes these numbers posted by the remaining colleges:

–676 in the College of Architecture, Art & Design;

–5,115 in the College of Arts & Sciences;

–2,555 in the College of Business;

–3,718 in the College of Education;

–530 in the College of Forest Resources; and

–431 in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

An increased number in transfer students, new graduate students and overall graduate students at Mississippi University for Women are trends being reported by officials this fall.

While enrollment has remained steady at 2,635, new transfer students are at 598, a nine percent increase over last year.

Increases were also seen in new undergraduate students, as well as graduate students, with the age of undergraduate degree-seeking students ranging from 17 to 73.

There were a total of 778 new undergraduate students this fall versus 740 in 2012, and 202 graduate students this year compared to 147 last fall.

Male enrollment also has risen from 17 percent to 18 percent.

Dr. Jim Borsig, W president, said, “I’m pleased with our enrollment. We’re growing in a variety of areas which is a credit to hard work by faculty and staff.  They’re ensuring they give students the foundation for success in an environment that is personal and nurturing.”

The university has maintained a stable enrollment while also awarding 817 degrees last year, the largest in the university’s history.

“Last year and this year, our students have experienced the instability of federal grant and loan programs, making it difficult for many families to plan,” said Borsig. “We’re proud to be an access institution with many first-generation students.”

This summer The W was listed as one of the top Mississippi colleges with the highest financial return on investment (http://www.onlinecollegesdatabase.org/online-colleges-in-mississippi/#high-starting-salary-colleges-mississippi).

Schools on the list have annual tuition rates below $20,000, and new graduates who earn more than $40,000 per year, on average. The W’s students enter the workforce earning an estimated $40,000 per year after graduation, ranking it second among all Mississippi post-secondary schools.

More recently, The W For the second year in a row, has been ranked a top master’s universities by Washington Monthly’s College Rankings. The W is at No. 45. The ranking formula is based on schools’ contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

Comment on this Story

  • Rick Cowart

    The state’s “Flagship”, haha…this is rich. MSU’s enrollment dipped for the second straight year. The Flagship (UM) continues to have the largest enrollment in the state, a better freshmen ACT average amd the largest freshmen class this year in the history of Mississippi.

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