Higher ed experts expect enrollment to continue rebound

University of Idaho
Posted at 12:30 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 14:30:14-04

IDAHO — As the deadline for high school students who applied to a two or four year college or university approaches, those institutions are predicting what enrollment might look like for the fall semester. This comes after declining enrollment throughout the pandemic that rebounded at Idaho's three Universities this past fall.

Nationally, undergraduate enrollment is down more than 2.5% since last year and more than 5% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

And here in Idaho, as our media partners at Idaho Education News reported, Idaho's two and four-year institutions saw a decline of more than 8.5% between fall 2019 and spring 2021.

Enrollment rebounded this past fall, with all three of Idaho's universities reporting enrollment increases.

College enrollment can also be affected by economic trends.

With low unemployment numbers and rising wages, the Idaho State Board of Education is anticipating enrollment could take another hit.

"When you have a tight labor market like we have right now, a lot of students choose to go into the workforce," said Kurt Liebich, the President of the Idaho State Board of Education.

He said many people decide to go back to school after a few years in the workforce. and the Board is anticipating another possible hit to enrollment in 2024 and 2025 because of the Great Recession.

"If you look at where those kids are today, those kids are in high school right now," Liebich said. "That cohort of students is going to be smaller than what we've seen over the last number of years."

Idaho's colleges and universities are reporting an increase of students visiting campus and applying.

While this doesn't always translate to increased enrollment, "We're pretty encouraged about what next year's going to look like, coming out of the pandemic," Liebich said.

With college Decision Day approaching, financial aid specialist, Stuart Siegel has some tips to help students get the most financial aid possible, including how to ask for more aid.

"Let's say you have a student who got a merit award from a couple of different colleges and the one they really want to go to is a little expensive, they didn't get quite as much," Siegel said.

He said students can reach out to the admissions office at their school of choice and ask for help. The admissions office might come back with a scholarship form the student can fill out or might ask for other award letters the student received.

Siegel said many times the school will match or surpass the aid offered from another school.