2004 enrollment down slightly at NU
September 15, 2004, Lincoln, NE -- Total enrollment at the University of Nebraska for Fall 2004 is 45,116, representing a decline of 2.0 percent compared to 2003. President James B. Milliken said, “Slight fluctuations in enrollment are common in an institution of this size, but we need to be moving in the other direction. There are many more Nebraskans who would benefit from attending the university and who would contribute to Nebraska’s economic future.”

Campus-by-campus statistics are located at www.nebraska.edu/news/facts_enrollment.pdf.

Among undergraduate students, total numbers decreased by 2.1 percent (4.0 percent at UNL and 0.5 percent at UNO, with a 0.1 percent increase at UNK and a 5.1 percent increase at UNMC). Graduate student numbers were down 2.3 percent with declines on all four campuses: 1.4 percent at UNL, 4.8 percent at UNMC, 3.9 percent at UNO and 0.4 percent at UNK.

Milliken said, “Some decline in enrollment might be expected given the demographics of Nebraska and the budget cuts of recent years. However, we cannot be complacent. We can do better, and the chancellors and I will work together to increase enrollment.”

Among the strategies Milliken says he favors are:

  • An effort to increase the college-going rate among Nebraska high school graduates (currently 59.3 percent), including working with other educational institutions and related organizations.
  • Additional need-based aid for Nebraska students. The recent “Measuring Up” report from the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education gave the state of Nebraska an “F” for affordability of higher education, primarily because of the shortage of need-based aid.
  • Increased efforts to recruit out-of-state students.
  • Earlier recruitment efforts in Nebraska schools, starting in middle school, to help ensure that students understand admissions requirements.
  • A stronger effort to educate Nebraska families about the cost of a college education. “We need to make sure families have a better idea of what the real costs are, and how much help is available to them,” Milliken said.

Milliken also cited “some real bright spots” in the 2004 enrollment report. “Although we don’t have all statistics in yet, it appears that our incoming freshmen have exceptional academic credentials,” he said. “UNL freshmen, for example, have an average ACT score of 24.8, the highest in their history and well above the state average of 21.7. The average score for UNO and UNK students is also above the state average. In addition, the GPA of every incoming class at the Medical Center colleges is above 3.5.”

Other enrollment highlights:

  • A large increase in transfer students: 9 percent at UNL and 5.9 percent at UNO compared to 2003.
  • UNO and UNK both show increases in the number of new freshman students – 6.7 percent at UNO and 3.6 percent at UNK compared to 2003; however, freshman numbers are down 11.2 percent at UNL.
  • Enrollment of ethnic minority students at UNK increased 10.4 percent, including an increase of 21.8 percent in Hispanic students. UNL’s enrollment of ethnic minority students increased 8 percent over 2003.

  • “Those are all positive trends,” Milliken said, “but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Individual campus contacts for more information:
University of Nebraska administration: Joe Rowson 402 472 7133 or Sharon Stephan 402 472 7554
UNL: Meg Lauerman 402 472 0296
UNO: Tim Kaldahl 402 554 3502
UNK: Ann Tillery 308 865 8000 or Glennis Nagel 308 865 8454
UNMC: Bill O’Neill 402 559 9152 or Tom O’Connor 402 559 4690

Related information on Enrollment, Educational Attainment

  • According to The National Center for Education Statistics, Nebraska high school enrollment is expected to decline by 9.5 percent from 2000 to 2012, while total enrollment in the U.S. in projected to increase by 9.2 percent during that same time period. Some states, such as Colorado, Arizona and California, expect double digit growth in the next several years.
  • In 2000, 38.5 percent of all Nebraskans ages 18-24 and 4.1 percent of all Nebraskans ages 25 and over were participating in some type of post-secondary education (including all two-year and four-year public and private institutions). By contrast, the best-performing state in the U.S., Rhode Island, had participation rates of 47.7 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. To close the “participation gap” by 2015 would require an increase of 44 percent – or 43,500 more students – in Nebraska institutions of higher education. Source: Education Commission of the States, October 2003.
  • The percentage of Nebraskans who have attained a college degree has risen steadily over the past 50 years. According to the 2000 census, 23.7 percent of Nebraskans have attained at least a bachelor’s degree. That is slightly below the national average of 24.4 percent.
  • The share of undergraduates enrolling in community colleges nationwide increased from 39 percent in 1989 to 41 percent in 1999, outpacing all other major postsecondary institutions. Enrollment in community colleges grew by 14 percent during the 1990s, while all of higher education grew by 9 percent during the same time.
  • According to 2000 figures from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems:

  • Out of 100 9th graders in Nebraska:
    90 say they plan to go to college
    84 graduate from high school on time (tied for 2nd in the US)
    53 enter college immediately
    38 are still enrolled their sophomore year
    22 graduate from college within 6 years (11th in the US)
  • Student enrollment at Iowa State University is 26,380, a level similar to fall 1999. It represents a 3.65 percent decrease (1,000 students) compared to fall 2003.

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