University of Nebraska enrollment hits all-time high

September 7, 2016

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds announced today that NU’s enrollment has reached an all-time high, a new milestone in the university’s efforts to expand access to education and produce a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the state’s economy.

Total enrollment at the university’s four campuses plus the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis is 52,515. That represents a 1.3 percent increase over fall 2015 and surpasses NU’s previous record high of 52,108, set in 1992.

Enrollments at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Medical Center all grew, including record highs at UNL and UNMC. Additionally, university-wide enrollments in each major category – undergraduates, first-time freshmen, graduate students and professional students – are all up. Among other highlights, UNL has its largest freshman class in history, with the second-highest average ACT score ever, and its undergraduate student body is the most diverse in history. And, UNO’s incoming freshman class is its largest and most diverse ever; nearly a third of new freshmen are students of color and 45 percent are first-generation.

“Enrollment growth is good news for the University of Nebraska, our state and the economy,” said NU President Hank Bounds. “To have reached the highest enrollment in our history is a true accomplishment and a testament to the great value and quality that our campuses provide. What’s most important to me is what that number represents. It means we’re doing more to produce talented graduates to meet the needs of Nebraska’s workforce. It means students and families continue to recognize the critical value of a college degree. And it means we’re expanding opportunities for even more students to transform their lives through education.”

Bounds noted that NU is a key driver of workforce development in Nebraska, with 1 of every 36 jobs in the state attributable to the university. Each year the university produces 10,000 new graduates who are prepared to meet workforce needs in areas like health care, business, engineering, information technology, education and others.

In accordance with Board of Regents goals, continued growth will be critical, particularly given that more than 70 percent of all jobs in Nebraska will soon require education beyond high school. Bounds said the university must focus especially on expanding access for first-generation, minority, low-income, rural and other traditionally underrepresented students. Attracting more nonresident students, including both out-of-state and international students, is another key part of NU’s growth strategy, as is reaching more students via distance learning, especially adult, military and other nontraditional students who can benefit from the flexibility of online coursework.

The university also is working not only to attract more students, but to make sure they graduate on time, with less debt and with the skills they need to be successful. Consistent with Board goals to improve retention rates and time to degree, the university has implemented strategies like Commit to Complete, a four-step plan to help students stay on the path to graduation. And, programs like Collegebound Nebraska, which promises full tuition coverage for qualifying Nebraska students, help keep the costs of a college education within reach for students and families. Bounds noted that NU represents a tremendous value when compared to peer institutions.

The University of Nebraska’s fall 2016 enrollment totals are as follows:

Campus enrollment totals

  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln: 25,897 (2.5 percent increase)
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha: 15,627 (0.7 percent increase)
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney: 6,788 (0.6 percent increase)
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center: 3,861 (1.9 percent increase)
  • Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture: 342 (33.2 percent decrease) 

University-wide enrollment totals

  • Undergraduate students: 39,644 (1.2 percent increase)
  • First-time freshmen: 7,937 (4.1 percent increase)
  • Graduate students: 9,832 (1 percent increase)
  • Professional students: 3,039 (3.8 percent increase)
  • Total enrollment including NCTA: 52,515 (1.3 percent increase)

A chart containing a full summary of enrollment data is attached. Figures are based on a student census taken on the sixth day of classes.

Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska