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Indiana State University sees 13% drop in student enrollment

August 28, 2021 GMT

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana State University is continuing to see sharp declines in student enrollment even as other universities in the state have more students arriving on campus.

Indiana State officials announced this past week a fall semester enrollment of 9,459 at the Terre Haute campus — down almost 1,400 students, or 13%, from last year.

University officials blame the COVID-19 pandemic as a big reason for the decline, the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star reported.

Indiana State draws many students who are the first in their families to attend college or come from low-income families and “are the most likely nationally to delay going to college,” school President Deborah Curtis said.

This fall semester’s drop follows a recent trend that has seen Indiana State’s enrollment fall by about 27% since it had some 13,000 students in 2017.

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University officials announced earlier in August a program aimed at new fall 2022 students that will include a grant of up to $3,000 for an out-of-classroom educational experience such as an internship or study abroad and a guarantee of being able to graduate within four years or the remainder of tuition is free.

“We’re going to own this,” Curtis said. “We’ve got work to do.”

Meanwhile, Purdue University said it was breaking an enrollment record with more than 45,000 students at its West Lafayette campus, including a largest-ever freshman class topping 10,000. Indiana University hasn’t announced a total enrollment yet but officials have projected a record-sized freshman class of some 9,300 students.

Curtis said the recent enrollment declines have hurt Indiana State’s budget.

“We’ve been very fortunate to minimally impact anyone currently working in a job,” she said.

Staff reductions “are never off the table,” Curtis said, but the university’s goal is to keep people employed. However, “We’ve got to turn those enrollment numbers around.”