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Penn State Sees Slight Decline in Enrollment

by on November 28, 2018 1:25 PM

Penn State student enrollment slightly decreased for 2018-19, both overall and at the University Park campus.

According to annual enrollment census data released Wednesday, the total number of students university-wide dropped from 98,783 in 2017 to 97,136 this year, a decrease of 1,647, or 1.7 percent.

At University Park, the decrease was a small one, with 46,270 enrolled this fall, 340 fewer than last year. 

The biggest drop came at the 19 Commonwealth Campuses, which have a combined enrollment of 28,861 for fall 2018. That's down 1,526 students, or 5 percent, from 30,387 in 2017.

“Enrollments at the campuses have seen periodic ups and downs from year to year, but the trend over 20 years has been quite stable,” Rob Pangborn, vice president and dean for undergraduate education, said in a news release. “What we are seeing recently in our Commonwealth Campuses is not different from what many of our peer institutions have experienced across the state and especially in the northeastern part of the country.”

Pangborn said declines can be the result of a number of factors, including population and demographic shifts, low unemployment rates and increased competition among colleges and universities.

University Park had a slight increase in first-year students, with 8,138 new students enrolled, up from 7,832 last year when Penn State had a planned reduction in new enrollees following a record-setting class in 2016.

Several locations had overall increases. Penn State Law at University Park and Dickinson Law in Carlisle grew a combined 6.7 percent to 740 students — 529 at University Park and 211 at Carlisle.

Penn State Great Valley School of Professional Graduate Studies in Malvern saw enrollment climb 3.5 percent to 401 students and the College of Medicine grew 1.5 percent to 943 students. World Campus also continued to grew, increasing enrollment by 1.1 percent to 14,458 students.

Total graduate and professional program student enrollment university wide increased by 456 to 15,038.

Demographics remained consistent, with white students comprising 65.5 percent of the population, international students 10.5 percent, Hispanic/Latino 7 percent, Asian 5.7 percent, and Black/African American 5.3 percent.

Pennsylvania resident undergraduate students make up 58 percent of the student population at University Park and 82 percent at Commonwealth Campuses, numbers consistent with recent years. 

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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