University of Nebraska enrollment grows to 20-year high

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken announced today that NU’s enrollment has grown to its highest total in 20 years, thanks in part to meaningful gains in the key group of first-time freshmen.

Total enrollment at NU’s four campuses plus the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis is 50,705 this fall, a 1 percent increase over last year. Undergraduate enrollment – an important metric for the university – grew slightly, with first-time freshmen increasing by nearly 7 percent. Enrollments of graduate and professional students also grew.

Other highlights this fall include the 14th straight year of record-high enrollment at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the largest incoming freshman class in history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a 12 percent increase in first-time freshmen at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Milliken said that while he is pleased with the overall growth, the university must do even more to attract and retain students from Nebraska and other states and countries so that Nebraska remains competitive in the knowledge economy.

“In just a few short years, two-thirds of all jobs in Nebraska will require education beyond high school. If Nebraska is to meet the workforce demands of the future, we will need to encourage many more students to pursue a college degree,” Milliken said. “I am pleased that a growing number of students and families are taking advantage of the affordable, quality education that the University of Nebraska offers, but we need to focus our efforts on expanding access to higher education to even more individuals who can benefit from it.”

Milliken noted that ensuring affordable access to high-quality education is among the most important priorities of the university and Board of Regents. Tuition and fees at each NU campus are well below the peer average, and the university will become an even better value for Nebraskans with a two-year freeze on resident tuition that took effect in 2013-14. In addition, NU students graduate with average debt levels that are comparable to or lower than their peers’, and the four NU campuses have the four-lowest student loan default rates among Nebraska public institutions.

The university has made record investments in financial aid, including Collegebound Nebraska, which guarantees that qualifying Nebraska students can attend NU and pay no tuition. Both Collegebound Nebraska and UNL and University of Nebraska at Kearney high school academies that provide students in Omaha, Grand Island, Kearney, Lexington and North Platte an opportunity to receive full scholarships to the university are helping to increase college-going among historically underrepresented student groups in Nebraska, including first-generation, low-income and minority students.

Private funds also play a significant role in making education more affordable. More than 2,500 NU students this fall are receiving financial aid from the Susan T. Buffett Foundation, which provides scholarships to students at Nebraska public colleges and universities.

In all, more than half of NU undergraduates – and 70 percent of UNK undergraduates – receive some form of grant aid that does not have to be repaid.

The university also is working to attract more talent from outside Nebraska. NU’s enrollment goals include doubling international student enrollment to about 6,000, and the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide offers more than 130 programs that are an excellent option for Nebraskans and others who are not in a position to attend one of the physical campuses. Initiatives such as UNO’s recently expanded Metropolitan Advantage Program, which allows students in 11 western Iowa counties to attend UNO at 150 percent of the resident tuition rate, are also making the university a competitive option regionally.

NU’s fall 2013 enrollment totals are as follows:

  • Campus enrollment totals
    University of Nebraska-Lincoln 24,445 1 percent increase
    University of Nebraska at Omaha 15,227 3 percent increase
    University of Nebraska at Kearney 7,052 2 percent decrease
    University of Nebraska Medical Center 3,681 0.7 percent increase

  • University-wide enrollment totals
    Undergraduate students 38,348 0.7 percent increase
    First-time freshmen 7,300 6.8 percent increase
    Graduate students 9,470 2.7 percent increase
    Professional students 2,887 0.1 percent increase
    Total enrollment including NCTA 50,705 1 percent increase
    Total enrollment not including NCTA 50,405 1.1 percent increase

    Download the full chart containing a summary of enrollment data.
    (Figures are based on a student census taken on the sixth day of classes.)
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