Idaho State’s enrollment drops

POCATELLO — Idaho State University’s fall enrollment is down from last year.

The latest tally: 12,387 — 256 fewer students from last fall’s enrollment of 12,643.

The decline constitutes a 2.5 percent drop among undergraduate students and a .8 percent increase among graduate students, according to an ISU press release from Wednesday.

Despite the overall decline, ISU’s new President Kevin Satterlee pointed to several “positive indicators”:

  • A 5.9 percent increase in career-technical students.
  • A 12.6 percent increase in early-college students.
  • A 12.8 percent increase in Idaho-resident transfer students.
  • A 3.4 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment of Hispanic students.
  • An 11.1 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment of American Indian students.

“We are putting in place initiatives designed to address the enrollment issues seen in this report,” Satterlee said in a prepared statement. “As those initiatives begin to take hold, we expect to see our enrollment trends move in a positive direction.”

Kevin Satterlee

This fall’s enrollment drop follows a growing number of students leaving ISU in recent years, contributing to what Satterlee recently dubbed a “financial crisis” at the institution.

The university’s 2017 fall headcount was down by more than 400 students from the prior year.

The exodus of hundreds of Mideast students contributed to the decline. At one point, nearly 1,200 Saudi and Kuwaiti students had enrolled at ISU. Supported largely by foreign scholarship programs, these students brought in up to $20,000 per person in annual tuition, replacing income lost from previous declines in enrollment and state funding.

In 2016, the New York Times reported that steep funding cuts to a major foreign scholarship program and a cultural clash between the foreign enrollees and community members were enticing Mideast students to leave Idaho.

ISU’s enrollment woes also follow an upsurge in the number of students attending the College of Eastern Idaho, located 50 miles north of ISU, in Idaho Falls.

As of July 17, 922 students had enrolled at CEI, a 482-student increase from a year prior, according to the school’s spokesman Todd Wightman. Growth was expected to follow CEI’s changeover to a community college last year, and some leaders predict the school’s enrollment to increase by thousands more over the next five years.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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