A ‘watershed:’ Early ISU numbers suggest an enrollment surge

Idaho State University is touting some early but encouraging enrollment numbers.

The preliminary numbers — including a big surge in first-year students — show signs of a continued rebound, after a decade of enrollment decreases.

Students gather at Idaho State University’s fall convocation. (Idaho State photo)

“These numbers mark a watershed at ISU,” retiring President Kevin Satterlee said in a news release Wednesday. “They represent the result of intentional strategies implemented over the last few years by the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff.”

The cause for the optimism: enrollment figures from the first 10 days of fall semester.

A few thumbnails:

  • First-time undergraduate enrollment, or freshman enrollment, is up by 361 students. That equates to a 26% increase, and the highest growth rate in a decade.
  • Undergraduate enrollment increased by 431 students, the largest increase in 14 years.
  • Overall, fall enrollment totaled 9,933, up nearly 2%. That also means Idaho State’s fall enrollment has increased for the third successive year.

The continued increases come after a precipitous decline in enrollment, driven in part by a steep loss of international students. In 2020, after less than two years on the job, Satterlee said Idaho State was facing a $16 million budget shortfall, largely the result of enrollment decreases.

In addition to the early enrollment numbers, Idaho State officials also pointed to signs that more students are staying in the classroom.

Based again on early numbers, Idaho State Wednesday reported a 74% student retention rate. If this figure holds up, it would represent a record retention rate for Idaho State.

Final fall enrollment numbers — for Idaho State and the state’s other public colleges and universities — are due Oct. 15.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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