MnSCU Enrollment Down Slightly in Fall, Reflecting Economic, Demographic Trends

Posted: November 12, 1996

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Fall-term enrollment at Minnesota's state universities and two-year public colleges has decreased 2.5 percent compared with last fall, reflecting economic and demographic trends.

A total of 145,172 students were enrolled at institutions that comprise the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) on the 10th day of fall quarter or semester 1996. Enrollment at the same time last year totaled 148,961.

Enrollment at the seven state universities this fall is stable, with a 0.2 percent increase compared to last year. A total of 51,470 students were enrolled on the 10th day of the term.

Enrollment is down 4 percent this fall at the two-year public colleges, composed of the nine community colleges, 11 technical colleges and 10 comprehensive community and technical colleges. A total of 93,702 students were enrolled on the 10th day.

These headcount enrollment figures provide a snapshot of the number of students attending on a specific day. Final fall-term enrollment at many of the colleges and universities is likely to be higher because of courses that start later in the term.

Although overall headcount enrollment is down, many MnSCU colleges and universities have reported increases in full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment -- a figure determined by dividing total student credit hours at a college or university by 15 (a typical full credit load). State funding of MnSCU is based partially on annualized FTE enrollment. Complete data on FTE enrollment are not available yet for fall term.

The decrease in headcount enrollment at some two-year colleges reflects Minnesota's strong economy and job market. Because of the large number of working adults who traditionally enroll in community colleges and technical colleges, enrollment tends to drop as more adults find satisfactory employment. Similarly, many students attend college only part time when employment opportunities are plentiful. Unemployment in Minnesota has remained at relatively low levels -- 3.9 percent in September, compared with 5.2 percent nationally. The closing of programs in response to changing employment needs also is a factor in decreased enrollment at some colleges.

Demographic trends also affect the enrollment picture. The number of Minnesota high school graduates has begun a gradual increase from the low point in 1992, but has yet to soar. The apparent upward trend in FTE enrollment may be an early indication of future enrollment growth. The number of high school graduates in Minnesota is projected to grow steadily during the next decade, from an estimated 59,080 in 1996-97 to 67,378 in 2006-07.

Approximately 97 percent of MnSCU's students are undergraduates. MnSCU institutions award about 30,000 degrees, diplomas and certificates each year, representing more than 1,200 academic programs (3,288 when programs at all campus locations are counted).

For this first time this fall, all MnSCU institutions are using standardized methodology to report headcount enrollment. The headcount figure for last fall has been adjusted to reflect this consistent approach. Note: Enrollment figures for each MnSCU institution are linked here


Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.