UCCS has seen a decrease in enrollment from the fall 2022 census date to the fall 2023 census date, but the Enrollment Management Division is hoping to see growth in the enrollment statistics they get in future semesters.
Last year’s census date had 10,782 students enrolled at UCCS, which was the lowest point of enrollment since 2013 with 10,816 students by the end of term, according to UCCS’ institutional research data.
According to enrollment management’s chief enrollment strategist Wendi Clouse, this year’s census date saw a decrease to 10,676 enrolled students, marking what could be another low point in enrollment by the end of the term.
Clouse and vice chancellor Jose Cantu are hopeful that a positive shift in enrollment is coming soon. They said UCCS is seeing a “strong upward momentum” in enrollment for new students, which they interpret as a signal of enrollment growth.
“I can’t promise we will surpass fall of 2022, but it is probable, and I am hopeful we will be very, very close,” Clouse said.
Both Clouse and Cantu pointed to several outreach programs that target local high schools and out-of-state students as being a large reason for the increase in new student enrollment. The programs educate potential students on how to make college affordable and how it can better their lives.
“We have a lot of layered programs that provide guiding support to a lot of different populations, and we find that’s critical for creating relationships with the institution. And that’s why I think we’re growing,” Clouse said.
According to Cantu, high enrollment numbers play a vital role in campus funding. Fluctuation in enrollment can drastically impact the budget, but there will not be a significant impact on the budget for this academic year.
Cantu said that part of why tuition is essential at UCCS is because of the lack of state funding for higher education in Colorado. According to a State Higher Education Officers Association report from 2022, Colorado ranks 49th nationally on spending per student for higher education.
Cantu said this makes monitoring enrollment to promote economic growth essential to campus success so UCCS can continue to provide educational opportunities to students.
“It’s really [about] trying to figure out, you know, where our potential is. When we’re looking at various student populations and that potential, we want to grow, and we want to be more competitive in the market against other institutions,” Cantu said.
Clouse and Cantu noted that while enrollment is an economic question, it isn’t about growing as a business but more about serving the community at UCCS.
“I would really like to get away from putting dollars connected to a student headcount. Students are more than their tuition, and we really need to get out of that mindset if we’re going to move forward and grow,” Clouse said.
Clouse noted that while high enrollment is important, so is making sure that students graduate. “We want to get them both here and across the stage … it’s not just about getting them here, it’s about gaining that credential to help them in the long run,” Clouse said.
According to Clouse, UCCS also saw a decline in enrollment with transfer students for the fall semester, which Cantu said is still a side effect from the pandemic.
Cantu explained that community colleges struggled to hold onto students more than other institutions, which means less transfer students coming in.
“As we try to recruit transfer students, we’re recruiting with a smaller population, but that’s going to shift on us in a positive way in the near future,” Cantu said.
Clouse noted that summer 2023 welcomed 481 new students, which is a 19.4% increase compared to summer 2022. She also said 1,518 students live in campus housing this semester, the rest being commuter students.
“This academic year is set. We shouldn’t see any negative implications. The positive implications, of course, is having new students on campus. It energizes campus and makes it a more vibrant community,” Clouse said.
Students pictured walking to and from columbine for class. Photo by Megan Moen.