Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs


News Release

Contact:  Melanie Magara, Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-1681

September 11, 2008

NIU tenth-day enrollment figures released

DEKALB – Add Northern Illinois University to the growing list of Illinois public universities reporting enrollment downturns linked to the state’s struggling economy.

In spite of a record number of applications, the official tenth-day count released this week shows a drop of  486 undergraduate students enrolled for the fall semester – even as community colleges in the NIU service region report record increases.

“The trend is clear,” says NIU Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver. “Our traditional student base – the sons and daughters of the working class in the greater Chicagoland area – are increasingly concerned about financial issues.  Financial aid is less available, student loans are more difficult to obtain, and many college-bound students who want the NIU experience are taking a less-costly path to get here.”

Seaver said undergraduate student applications increased by more than 1,000 over the previous year, and the number of students who completed the admissions process and confirmed their intent to attend this fall was similarly higher than last year.

“Our surveys indicate a higher-than-usual number of admitted students are choosing to postpone their NIU experience due to financial concerns,” Seaver explained. “That choice appears to be playing out across our state, with community colleges experiencing record enrollment increases.”

Across the state, a higher percentage of university-bound students are choosing to begin that journey at community colleges.  Early estimates from the 20 community colleges in NIU’s service region show enrollment increases this fall ranging from 2 to 10 percent.

Illinois’ sagging economy has affected numbers at the master’s degree level as well: Nearly three-quarters of NIU’s decline in graduate enrollment this fall is directly attributable to cuts in professional development funds and incentives at regional hospitals and school districts.

“The statewide shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals means fewer of those workers need graduate degrees to advance in their professions,” said Bradley Bond, acting dean of the Graduate School.  “Likewise, school districts in our region are increasingly hard-pressed to finance graduate education for teachers and administrators.  The lion’s share of our graduate enrollment decline this fall is at the master’s level in education and health sciences – two areas most impacted by our sluggish economy.”

Enrollment totals aside, NIU’s tenth-day enrollment report also contains some bright spots:  Traditional new freshmen are bringing higher grade point averages to NIU this fall – 3.31 this year versus 3.27 last fall.  Similarly, the percentage of freshmen with GPAs of 3.5 or better increased to 33% compared with 25% last year.

For a detailed breakdown of NIU’s tenth-day enrollment snapshot, see the chart below:

Fall 2008 Tenth-Day Enrollment Summary

Category 2008 2007 % Change
New freshmen 
2,902
2,976
-2.5
New transfers
2,157
2,164
-0.3
On-campus undergraduates 
18,069
18,495
-2.3
Off-campus undergraduates 
362
422
-14.2
TOTAL UNDERGRADUATES 
18,431
18,917
-2.6
On-campus graduate students 
3,854
3,948
-2.4
Off-campus graduate students  
1,815
2,064
-12.1
TOTAL GRADUATE STUDENTS
5,669
6,012
-5.7
Law students
297
325
-8.6
TOTAL ENROLLMENT
24,397
25,254
-3.4

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