Enrollment dips, freshmen numbers stay steady

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Enrollment dips, freshmen numbers stay steady

North Central adjusts financial aid to compensate declining numbers

Number of students enrolled (vertical) and year of enrollment (horizontal) tracked over the last eight years. Enrollment has steadily dropped for six years while freshmen enrollment has remained steady.


Undergraduate enrollment dropped at North Central University for the sixth consecutive year. While this is financially difficult, scholarship cuts are assisting with keeping a balanced budget.

There were 1,009 undergraduates enrolled at North Central in 2015. The final enrollment number for the fall of 2016 is 904 – a decline of 105 students. The total enrollment for the fall semester, which includes graduate and PSEO students, is 1,111. This is a drop of 101 students from last year’s total enrollment of 1,212.

In the fall of 2015, North Central had 220 true freshmen (meaning they just graduated from high school) and 114 transfers or re-applicants. This fall, the number of true freshmen is steady at 220, but the number of transfers or re-applicants dropped to 64.

The graduate studies department has 31 students enrolled this fall — two more than last year. Graduate student Joshua Smedsrud was the first person to complete the degree in May 2016. 166 undergraduates also completed their degree in May, according to registrar Mary Murphy.

Dee McDonald, chief enrollment officer, said that the number of freshmen is promising for the future of North Central because they have a high chance of staying the full four years and investing in the community.

Many scholarships have been cut or reduced this year. This is a contrast to 2015 — a banner year for new scholarships in hopes of luring new students to North Central. Last year, financial aid for dependents of ministers was increased from a $1,400 yearly scholarship to a 60 percent tuition discount, according to an email interview with Monica Muchow, director of financial aid. This increase resulted in an additional $300,000 being distributed to 111 students. No significant increase in enrollment was seen last year as a result of the discount, Muchow said. Full-ride scholarships for dependents of Board of Regents members were also cut this year.

McDonald said the scholarship reductions have not affected enrollment numbers. “A university our size can’t give away free tuition, because it is 96 percent tuition driven,” he said. The reductions in scholarships are contributing to a healthier model revenue.

“There are a lot of positive pieces being put into motion, and this upcoming year we have a robust communication plan,” McDonald said. “We are on the way to becoming healthier as a university.”