Fall 2021 sees student growth in several key areas, despite overall enrollment decline
MANHATTAN — Despite a challenging year caused by the ongoing pandemic, Kansas State University has recorded its highest graduation rate in recent history — a rate that is higher than the national average. Although overall enrollment is down 3% this fall at K-State, recruitment of new freshmen and transfers has stabilized following several years of smaller classes.
Total student enrollment is 20,229 for fall 2021 and includes increases in transfer students, at K-State Salina, graduate students and new international freshmen and international graduate students. New student enrollment — including new freshmen and transfer students — dipped only 1% from last year.
K-State continues to lead all Regents institutions in key student success indicators: the student retention rate of 86% is tied for highest, while K-State's six-year graduation rate of 68.4% is the best and well above the 63.9% national average for four-year doctoral institutions. Larger graduating classes have led to an overall decrease in enrollment as smaller incoming classes in previous years work through the system.
"At K-State, our faculty and staff are committed to providing the direction and support necessary for students to succeed," said Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management. "We have built a culture of care and have worked to ensure we prepare graduates of the university — they are not just an enrollment number."
Goos said student application numbers show increased excitement and interest in K-State and provide evidence that the university's enrollment management plan is working.
"Efforts to streamline tuition and revamp our scholarship programs to address affordability are gaining traction," Goos said. "Last year, we had record numbers of inquiries and applications, which is a positive trend in our long-term efforts to grow strategically."
The university gives out more than $54 million in scholarships and awards each year. The university also continues working to make tuition even more affordable for out-of-state students, with undergraduates from Illinois and Missouri the latest eligible to apply for K-State tuition waivers. Most recently, K-State announced its Land-Grant Commitment, the pledge to provide full-time, Pell Grant-eligible undergraduate students a direct award equivalent to the full-time, in-state tuition not covered by other grants and scholarships.
An indication that the effects of the global pandemic are easing on enrollment is that new international freshman student enrollment is up more than 65% from a year ago, led by more students from Paraguay and India. New international graduate student enrollment is up nearly 89%, with China leading the way, followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.
"This is an encouraging sign that student mobility is picking up and that Kansas State University's excellent programs are in demand from international students," said Grant Chapman, associate provost for international programs.
K-State Salina, home of the Aerospace and Technology Campus, is continuing several years of enrollment growth. Fall 2021 enrollment is 741, up from 649 in fall 2020. The campus's enrollment growth has sparked the need for more on-campus housing, with construction of a third residence hall to begin soon.
New transfer student enrollment is up nearly 8% from a year ago, graduate student enrollment is up from 4,120 to 4,134 students, while K-State Online enrollment also rose slightly, from 2,763 to 2,837.
While enrollment is down slightly, university administrators planned for a slight decrease and do not anticipate any effect on the university's budget for the current school year.