IOWA – The University of Northern Iowa is projecting its lowest enrollment numbers for the upcoming fall semester.
According to UNI’s President Mark Nook the projected students enrolled in the fall is around 10,600. That is 600 less compared to the 2018 fall semester.
Nook said the low numbers is something they saw coming.
“Anytime the unemployment rate goes under something like three and a half percent, certainly three percent, our enrollment will follow that unemployment rate down. We are seeing that, so it was expected. Until that unemployment rate turns around we will probably be low as well,” Nook said.
Nook said the university is not seeing as many high school students enroll right away.
One UNI student Gabrielle Mauro said she has heard high school students be skeptical when it comes to attending a four year college.
“I think it is easier for kids who graduate high school to just go into a job right away and start making money and then if they think of school later than they would go to college. I think it’s more about making money right away, especially if you are in a tough financial situation, have to provide for your family, whatever the situation is,” Mauro said.
UNI has started implementing a plan to help bring back students to the university. One is trying to increase the number of transfer students from community colleges.
“We’ve put together a comprehensive enrollment plan that includes first of all the implementation of constituent relationship management software. Something we haven’t done. It will help us communicate with students more effectively and start to communicate with them earlier in their college search process,” Nook said.
The university is also implementing additional brand marketing to students in surrounding states.
Mauro said she likes the atmosphere at UNI. It’s one of the reasons why she chose to go there.
“It’s not as big as ISU and Iowa. I don’t like to be in big crowds of people, especially classes. I don’t focus as much if I have a ton of students around me. I’d rather be in a smaller classroom where I feel more comfortable to ask questions, talk to the professor,” Mauro said.
The Board of Regents recently approved tuition increases for both Iowa State and the University of Iowa. UNI did not increase its tuition.
“The economy is tightened up as fewer and fewer of our high school graduates are going off to college it’s important that we be very competitively priced. We’re looking at trying to hold our tuition flat as Iowa and Iowa State take theirs up,” Nook said.
Nook said within the next five years the University hopes to increase enrollment to 13,000. The last time enrollment was that high was back in 2011.
UNI will have an official count of how many students are attending this fall two weeks after the first day.