University of Nebraska President Ted Carter announced today that enrollment across the NU system is up 1 percent this year, powered by growth among Nebraskans and underrepresented students following a series of steps by the university to prioritize access, affordability and predictability amid the uncertainties of COVID-19.
Fall 2020 enrollment at NU’s four campuses plus the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is 51,703, an increase of almost 500 students over last year. System-wide enrollments of first-time freshmen, undergraduate, graduate and professional students all grew, and resident enrollment increased nearly 2 percent, with all campuses seeing growth among Nebraska undergraduates.
Additionally, campuses are celebrating growth among minority, first-generation and other historically underrepresented students, key achievements in view of the university’s goals for diversity and inclusion.
This year’s increase reverses two straight years of modest declines, and gives the NU system its sixth-highest enrollment in history – an accomplishment made even more remarkable, Carter said, by the challenges of a global pandemic that was widely predicted to impact enrollment, particularly among international students, at institutions across the country.
"At an unprecedented time, the University of Nebraska has delivered for the people of the state," Carter said. "We knew early on that this would be a recruitment and admissions cycle unlike any other. Our goal was to provide as much hope and predictability as possible, so that students and families can continue to realize the incredible value of a University of Nebraska education.
"Our commitment has paid off. I could not be more grateful to the faculty, staff, chancellors and their leadership teams across the campuses for all they have done to put students first during this uniquely challenging period. When our university grows, so grows our state."
Carter highlighted system-wide steps taken in recent months to expand affordability, accessibility and predictability for students and families:
The university in April launched the Nebraska Promise, a financial aid program that covers full tuition costs for Nebraska students with a family income of $60,000 or less. Early indications are that the program is helping to drive growth among first-generation and other underrepresented students.
Carter announced a two-year, across-the-board tuition freeze for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, ensuring the continued value of NU’s campuses compared to their peers and helping students and families plan for the future.
The NU system moved to a single, reduced in-state tuition rate for most online undergraduate courses, expanding access and flexibility especially for students who are unable to be physically on campus.
Carter and the chancellors decided early on that the university would re-open for in-person learning this fall, providing predictability for students about the university’s plans. Carter praised campus teams for their diligent work in preparing to safely and responsibly welcome students back for the fall semester.
Specific successes for fall 2020 include:
The University of Nebraska at Omaha led this year’s growth, with an increase of 739 students. UNO has its highest enrollment since 1992 and, in a testament to the university’s commitment to access, enrollment among first-generation students in UNO’s incoming class is up more than 30 percent.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center has its 20th straight record-high enrollment. Notably in light of the pandemic, enrollment in the College of Public Health is up more than 50 percent, with especially high demand for the online master’s degree in public health.
True to its access mission, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is seeing growth across key student groups, including resident undergraduates, minority students and first-generation students. Minority enrollment at UNL is up 5.6 percent over last year, and enrollment of first-generation, first-time freshmen is up more than 12 percent.
Strategies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney to attract new talent to the state are paying off, with enrollment among students from Colorado and Kansas increasing more than 35 percent since UNK implemented a tuition discount program for those states in 2018. UNK’s newly launched New Nebraskan scholarship program will offer a discount to in-state tuition to all U.S. undergraduate, on-campus students beginning in fall 2021.
As projected, travel challenges caused by the pandemic have resulted in a decline among international students. System-wide enrollment of international students is down approximately 15 percent this year.
Details on the University of Nebraska’s fall 2020 enrollment follow. Figures are based on a student census taken on the sixth day of classes.
University-wide enrollment totals:
- First-time freshmen: 7,789 (1.1 percent increase)
- Undergraduate students: 38,690 (0.8 percent increase)
- Graduate students: 9,696 (0.7 percent increase)
- Professional students: 3,317 (4.5 percent increase)
- Total enrollment including NCTA: 51,703 (1 percent increase)
Campus enrollment totals:
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln: 25,057 (1.3 percent decrease)
- University of Nebraska at Omaha: 15,892 (4.9 percent increase)
- University of Nebraska at Kearney: 6,225 (0.9 percent decrease)
- University of Nebraska Medical Center: 4,247 (4.7 percent increase)
- Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture: 282 (14.8 percent decrease)