MISSOULA – The incoming freshman class at the University of Montana grew nearly 2 percent from a year ago, with 1,292 students compared to 1,268 last year.
UM has an overall, preliminary fall enrollment headcount of 11,865 students. As officials expected, this represents a 4.5 percent decrease in total enrollment at the institution.
Fall 2017 undergraduate headcount enrollment at the central mountain campus was down 437 students, or 5.5 percent. The headcount for graduate students grew 10 percent.
Tom Crady, UM vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, was pleased to see the University’s freshman class growing again.
“Stabilizing the incoming freshman class is the critical first step to reversing the overall enrollment decline,” Crady said. “It indicates that the new strategies we’re deploying are beginning to yield more students.”
The full UM census report is online at http://bit.ly/2wWj0E2.
Missoula College has 317 fewer students, which signifies a decline of 15 percent, but the downturn is due primarily to a substantial reduction in dual enrollment. The number of high school students taking college courses at Missoula College this year is 280, which is less than half of the 583 who registered for the fall term last year.
“If dual enrollment would have stayed even with last year, Missoula College would have been down less than 1 percent,” Crady said. “The reason for the decline in dual enrollment is unclear but may be due to increased interest in the International Baccalaureate Program, similar to dual enrollment, which also is recognized by UM.”
Crady praised Emily Ferguson-Steger, Liz Stotts, Joe Carpenter and the team in the admissions office for their tireless efforts in working to bring in more students.
“In particular, the increases we see in Native American students – both at Missoula College and the mountain campus – and the increase in first-generation students on the mountain campus, are the direct result of the personal attention and service of our team members,” he said.
The overall headcount of 11,865 students exceeds the projected 11,465 upon which UM prepared the FY18 budget.
Rosi Keller, UM interim vice president for administration and finance, cautioned that significant budget challenges still exist for the campus.
“We have encouraging enrollment numbers, but we need to understand the mix of resident and nonresident, the full-time students and other factors that will ultimately determine our tuition revenue,” Keller said. “Our current enrollment number includes students who are waiting on late financial aid or, for other reasons, have not finalized their payment. It will be a little later in the term before we have final revenue numbers.”
The Montana University System is awaiting news as to the extent of additional budget reductions that will be required to address the state’s budget challenges. All units, including UM, will see state general fund reductions.
UM’s enrollment was a key topic of discussion for each of the four presidential finalists who visited campus earlier this month. Many of the candidates addressed the value of a UM education – with its excellent academic programs, incredible setting and the success of its research and philanthropy as indicators for a bright future.