What does an increase in enrollment mean exactly? For some, it means increased interest in a campus or its degree offerings.
But for black colleges, a boost in students could make the difference in a stabilized or downgrade in bond rating, the fine line between hiring or laying off staff, the slim margin between operating on revenue instead of a line of credit, or having full accreditation status versus warning or probation for financial struggles.
The list of HBCUs reporting enrollment increases in first-year or overall student enrollment increases includes:
Alcorn State University
Alcorn reports a six percent increase in its total enrollment from 2015, and officials cite investments in new scholarship programs as a key element of the student gains.
“The commitment of our dedicated faculty, staff and alumni to our vision of increasing access, affordability and student success has forged our enrollment success,” President Alfred Rankins Jr. said. “Aligning our tuition pricing and scholarship offerings with our institutional priorities, increasing our admissions and recruitment staff, enhancing customer service, strengthening our marketing and branding strategies, and support from our faithful alumni have all contributed to our growth.
Bethune-Cookman University welcomed 1,224 freshmen to campus this fall, a 23% increase and part of an 10.11% overall enrollment jump from the 2015–16 academic year.
“It is essential that we make sure that our students feel our culture of care and genuine desire for them to all succeed. B-CU is a place that these students can truly make their mark,” says President Edison Jackson. President Jackson is also proud to announce that more than 3,000 students now live on campus. Last year, the university could only accommodate 1,800. The completion of two state-of-the-art residence life centers has welcomed an additional 1,200.
Central State University
CSU welcomed 634 new first-time students this fall, a 22 percent increase from 2015. The enrollment jump coincides with the university’s new initiative to reduce out-of-state surcharges for students from neighboring states by 76 percent.
Dr. Stephanie Krah, CSU’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said, “Our recruitment efforts increased the University’s visibility and once they heard about our academic programs, opportunities for growth and value, their interest increased.”
Florida Memorial University
FMU broke a six-year high for student enrollment this fall, with 498 students breaking 2015’s freshman class tally by more than 100 students.
University President Roslyn Artis credits FMU’s summer orientation program that allowed parents and students to work on testing, advising and fiscal clearance as part of the reason for the enrollment in- crease. “For the first time this year we started orientation as early as June to allow parents and students an opportunity to get organized, get cleared and get ahead,” Artis stated. “I commend the outstanding efforts of our Student Affairs team for their diligence in recruitment and professional, high quality customer service that they extended to all of our families and students.”
Harris-Stowe State University
The Hornets welcomed their largest freshman class in school history, with more than 600 students contributing to a two-year, 50 percent total increase in enrollment.
Indeed, students are coming to St. Louis to attend Harris-Stowe from 37 states and 10 countries, including China, Brazil, India, Scotland and Nigeria. This emphasis on out-state recruitment has filled the University’s two residential halls, which are at capacity for the first time. The first facility, the Rev. Dr. William G. Gillespie Residence Hall and Student Center, opened in 2006 and the Freeman R. Bosley Residence Hall opened in 2011.
North Carolina Central University
The NCCU Campus Echo reports on the school’s increase in students, with focus on the school following a national trend of more women enrolling in college than men.
Last year, 742 female students made up 66% of the class, and male students, at 383, made up 34%. This year, the gap increased by 2%, with 752 women and 357 men in the class of 2020.
Shaw increased it freshman class to more than 600 students, the largest in six years and part of a reversal of five consecutive years of declining enrollment.
(Shaw President Tashni) Dubroy credits the shattered records to the university’s enrollment management team, which funneled an unprecedented 9,000 applications. She also notes an intentional effort to use technology to drive the recruitment process. Not only were students able to apply online, but the “robust online portal” also made it possible for transcripts to be electronically uploaded and opened lines of communication between Shaw and high school guidance counselors across the globe, she said.
South Carolina State University
Enrollment at the state’s historically black flagship institution is up 40 percent, and has created a need for additional housing on and off campus.
The increased number of new students enabled S.C. State to exceed its projected enrollment goal of 2,900 with a total of 2,963 students for the fall semester.
However, the number of returning students was down over last year’s total, Clark said. That decrease was due to the school’s new stricter policy that limits how much money students can owe and still return to class.
Virginia State University
Trojan Land welcomes nearly 1,000 freshman to campus this fall, a 30 percent increase from last year’s class.
“We are excited to welcome our newest members to the Trojan family,” said VSU President Dr. Makola M. Abdullah. “It’s a new year and a new season for Virginia State University. I am confident that our faculty and staff will assist the Class of 2020 and the rest of the Trojan student body succeed and transform their academic experience beyond their dreams and aspirations. We pride ourselves as a university whose role is to provide a transformative experience for our students and embrace our role as Virginia’s opportunity university.”